Anyone who has ever watched a crime show on television has no doubt heard the phrase “Miranda rights” whenever law enforcement catches a bad guy. Miranda rights are part of the Fifth Amendment. Born out of the 1966 Supreme Court ruling in Miranda v. Arizona, they require that before law enforcement takes any person into custody for questioning, they must verbally state what that individual’s rights are. Anyone remanded into custody must be verbally told that they “have the right to remain silent,” which means that they have the right not to make any comments that could be self-incriminating.
There are four rights that everyone who is being taken into custody must be made aware of. Law enforcement has an obligation to ensure that they verbally tell someone suspected of a crime that they:
- Have the right to remain silent
- That anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law
- That the individual has a right to an attorney
- And that if they cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to them
What if a person is not read their Miranda rights?
Since it is mandatory for police officers to verbally tell each individual being taken into custody what their Miranda rights are, if the officer does not give a verbal warning, then any statements that a person makes cannot be admissible in court or in their prosecution. If they are not advised of their rights, any statements or confessions that they make are assumed to be involuntary. This means anything that is discovered through their own statements cannot be used as a confession.
For instance, if a person was suspected of breaking and entering and was taken into custody for questioning without law enforcement reading them their Miranda rights, nothing that they said during the interrogation would be admissible in court. Even if the person being questioned admits that they broke in, their confession could not be used against them if they were not properly Mirandized.
It is illegal for the police to question anyone without first telling them their rights. It isn’t just that the confession could be thrown out, but any money that the criminal was able to steal is likewise gone — because there is no way to press charges or to recover it legally if they were not given a verbal statement of their rights.
When you should waive your Miranda rights
It is possible for a suspect to waive their Miranda rights either implicitly or expressly. If someone chooses to expressly waive their Miranda rights, they have to state in writing that they want to waive their right to be silent and their right to be represented by an attorney. If you imply that you want to waive your Miranda rights, then you must show that you understand your rights and are voluntarily waiving them.
If you behave as if you understood that you don’t have to say anything to incriminate yourself and that you are entitled to an attorney, but you do not ask for one and make a confession or self-incriminating statement, then you are implying that you are willing to waive your Miranda rights.
Although you can waive your Miranda rights, it is never a good idea. It is always best to get the advice of counsel before you say or do anything. Once you make self-incriminating statements about your actions or your criminal activities, then the court can use them if you have permitted them to do so by waiving your rights.
There may come a time when it behooves you to confess to wrongdoing, but you shouldn’t ever waive your Miranda rights without first speaking to an attorney. If you are suspected of a crime make sure to tell your criminal defense attorney in Queens in full details the events of what happened after you were remanded and whether or not your Miranda rights were explained.