Your Miranda Rights Part Two – What Are They?
In our last blog post, we covered the history of the Miranda Warning and how it became mandatory for all suspected criminals to be read their rights before arrest. In this post, Coolidge Law Firm (certified criminal law specialist in Phoenix, Arizona) would like to explain in more detail what the Miranda Rights mean for you, in the event that you are ever questioned or arrested by law enforcement.
Questioned by an Officer Before Being Read Your Rights
A police officer can approach you or pull your vehicle over and question you if they are suspicious that you may have been involved in a crime. If they wish to arrest you and have sufficient grounds to do so, it is at this point that they must read you the Miranda Warning. The catch here is, anything you say before the arrest and reading of the Miranda Warning can be used against you in a court of law. For that reason, if you believe you are a potential suspect in a crime, it is best to politely decline to answer any questions before you speak with an attorney.
When you are arrested and an officer reads you the Miranda Warning under the law, you have been Mirandized. This also means that you have acknowledged that you understand your four fundamental rights outlined in the warning and are choosing to enact or wave them. They are:
- You have the right to remain silent: All too often in the heat of the moment, suspected criminals feel the need to answer questions or defend themselves against their charges. While this is a natural survival instinct, it’s often best to invoke your right to silence and avoid the possibility of your testimony being used against you. In order to do this properly, you must state that you are invoking your right to remain silent until you have consulted an attorney.
- Anything you say after that point can and will be used against you in a court of law: If you have been arrested and are being interrogated as a criminal suspect, it’s likely the police are already forming a case against you. They may strategically question you to get the answers they need in order to support their facts and evidence. When you choose not to invoke your right to silence, you put yourself at risk of self-incrimination.
- You have the right to an attorney: Choosing to remain silent in order to consult with an experienced certified criminal law specialist in Phoenix, Arizona means that your attorney can build your case from the ground up. If you speak with law enforcement officers before you invoke your right to an attorney, you put your case at undue risk.
- If you cannot afford an attorney you have the right to a public defender, who will be appointed to you: Not all suspects will be able to afford private counsel, and this part of the Miranda Warning protects vulnerable defendants from self-incrimination by providing them a public defender. Legal Aid OK states, “If you have not bonded out, the court will automatically appoint a public defender for you at your first court date, called your arraignment. If you have bonded out and wish to be represented by a public defender, you must fill out an application and present it to the judge at your next court date.”
If A Police Officer Does Not Read You The Miranda Warning
In the scenario where an officer forgets or fails to recite your Miranda Rights to you, there is a chance that your attorney can get your charges dismissed. If you were questioned as a suspect in custody without being read the Miranda Warning, your statement is presumed to be involuntary, and therefore cannot be used against you in a criminal case. In addition, evidence discovered as a result of your statement will likely be thrown out as well. The exception would be if there is overwhelming evidence that you committed the crime.
Remember, if you have any reason to believe that you are a suspect in a crime, it is always best to speak with an attorney before making any statement to the police. If that day ever comes, choose an experienced certified criminal law specialist in Phoenix, Arizona. At Coolidge Law Firm we are committed to your best defense. Let our qualified team advise you on your next steps.
Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (5/07/2018) Commander, U.S. Naval Forces (Flickr)