The Miranda warning, also referred to as the Miranda rights, is a statement that a law enforcement officer must give a criminal suspect before questioning him or her. Failure to read a suspect’s Miranda rights could result in inadmissible evidence and/or case dismissal.
What are the Miranda rights?
The Miranda rights came about from a 1966 case, Miranda v. Arizona. It was enacted to protect a criminal suspect’s right to avoid self-incrimination during police interrogation, which is a constitutional right under the Fifth Amendment.
The rights state:
- 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 consult a lawyer and have that lawyer present during interrogation; and
- if you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you.
The rights also allow individuals to invoke their option to remain silent or to have a defense attorney present before or during an interrogation. Upon invoking this right, questioning will stop. Furthermore, the suspect must affirm that he or she understands these rights. Silence is not a sufficient acknowledgement.
Miranda Warning Prerequisites
Officers must read suspects their rights when and only when the suspect is in custody and is under interrogation. If you’re not actually in police custody, the officer doesn’t to have read you your rights.
In other words, any information an officer obtains from a suspect prior to actual custody (an arrest) and interrogation is admissible in court.
For example, if an officer casually asks you a question without having arrested you, whatever you say can be used as evidence. Likewise, if you are under custody and haven’t been read your rights, but you freely start confessing a crime without the officer having asked a question, that confession can be used against you during trial.
Miranda Warning Violations
If an officer fails to read you your rights anything you say during an interrogation cannot be used against you and any evidence law enforcement collects as a result of the interrogation is inadmissible in court.
For example, let’s assume a suspect was placed under arrest for aggravated battery and brought in for questioning without having heard his or her rights. During the interrogation the officer obtained incriminating evidence such as the location of a weapon used in the attack. The weapon, and any other information the suspect provides during the interrogation, cannot be used against them.
Additional Miranda Right Stipulations
Regardless of whether or not suspects have heard their Miranda rights, they are still required to provide basic information, such as their:
- birth date; and
- address to a law enforcement officer.
Officers also have the authority to bypass the Miranda right citation if public safety is an issue, as well as the right to search a suspect to protect their safety.
The bottom line is that any information a suspect provides after they have heard their rights is admissible in a criminal case. However, at any time during an interrogation, even after heard their rights, a suspect may cease answering questions until they have an attorney present.
Refer to a criminal defense attorney for more information about Miranda right violations.