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“You have the right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.”
You might not have heard the monumental legal declaration during an encounter with a law enforcement officer, but you probably have heard the oft-quoted legal declaration in a movie or television show. Based on the constitutional protections granted by the 5th Amendment, the famous declaration is called Miranda rights for people suspected of committing a crime. Miranda rights originated from a pivotal case litigated in the State of Arizona.
Miranda v. the State of Arizona
The Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona evolved from a number of cases that involved confessions presented by defendants courts later found were vulnerable to law enforcement manipulation. Most of the defendants had little or no educations and/or possessed mental and emotional conditions that gave law enforcement an edge in coercing confessions. The Supreme Court ruled that under the legal meaning of the 5th Amendment, law enforcement must recite what is now called Miranda warnings that prevent self-incrimination.
What Does Right to Remain Silent Mean?
Criminal suspects must explicitly accept the Miranda right to remain silent to prevent self-incrimination. Simply remaining silent does not activate Miranda rights. If a criminal suspect does not clearly invoke his or her right to remain silent, law enforcement can continue to question the suspect. Criminal suspects that invoke Miranda rights immediately waive the rights, if they make statements not coerced by a law enforcement official. Anyone accused of a crime should immediately invoke Miranda rights and never offer information to law enforcement officials voluntarily.
Let’s review the law enforcement declaration made famous by police dramas such as Dragnet:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an, attorney, one will be appointed for you
When Law Enforcement Fails to Advise Suspects of Miranda Rights
Judges have thrown out countless number of criminal cases because law enforcement failed to educate suspects about their Miranda rights. Whether the criminal stole a leather jacket or committed a homicide, the failure to read Miranda rights leads to suspects leaving courtrooms un-cuffed. Whenever a law enforcement official fails to inform a suspect of the constitutional right not to self-incriminate, any statement or confession made by the suspect is considered to be against the suspect’s will and thus, legally irrelevant for prosecution.
Law Enforcement Proof
The reading of Miranda rights used to be a case of “He said, she said.” Law enforcement personnel who testified under oath that they read a suspect his or her Miranda rights typically were considered truthful, and hence, any claims by the defense counsel to the contrary were dismissed by judges, Contemporary legal cases include the presentation of law enforcement video camera footage that documents law enforcement officials reciting Miranda rights to suspects. The same videotaping principle applies to police interrogations of suspects.
Nonetheless, many Miranda rights cases unfold that require the expertise of a licensed criminal law attorney. For example, police might have read your Miranda rights and you invoked the rights. You appear to have protected yourself against self-incrimination. However, law enforcement claims you waived your Miranda rights by making just a subtle admission of wrongdoing during a casual conversation.
Contact an experienced criminal law attorney today for a free initial consultation to determine if law enforcement violated your constitutionally guaranteed Miranda rights.