We’ve all seen suspects on TV dragged away to a waiting police car, the screen fading to black as an officer begins the familiar line, “you have the right to remain silent.” But what does that really mean? And, more importantly, how does your right to remain silent affect your case if you have been accused of a crime?
What Are My Miranda Rights?
In the past, police officers regularly used coercive interrogation tactics on a suspect, including denying them the right to speak to a lawyer, in order to obtain a confession or other information useful in their prosecution. While law enforcement training still involves learning psychological (and potentially manipulative) interrogation techniques, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that police must warn all suspects of the consequences of saying anything after a suspect in custody.
The 1966 case of Miranda vs. Arizona led to a change in the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: the mandatory reading of a suspect’s Miranda rights. Anyone who is taken into police custody must be informed of their right to not make any self-incriminating statements.
To fulfill the Miranda warning requirement, an arresting officer must tell you:
- You have the right to remain silent. Most of the time, the smartest move is to remain silent. If you are detained by an officer, you must state your name for identification if asked.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. If the police are talking to you (and you aren’t a witness to a crime), they are likely trying to obtain evidence against you. This includes asking seemingly “innocent” questions, such as your employer’s name or whether you attend college.
- You have the right to an attorney. You must also be advised that if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. However, this is not something you want to leave up to chance! You should seek out an experienced Ohio criminal defense attorney to fight for you as soon as possible.
The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams, LLC, provides guidance and tenacious representation for clients facing serious charges in Ohio and throughout Montgomery County. Call us today at (513) 929-9333 or fill out our online contact form to set up your consultation.
What Else Do I Need to Know About My Miranda Rights?
The most important thing you must know is that, without a Miranda warning, any confession or statements that you make will be inadmissible to your case. If an arresting officer fails to read your rights, then any interrogation performed afterward is in breach of U.S. law—and can potentially lead to dismissal of your case.
You should also be aware that:
- They must only be read before interrogation. Police are only required to read a suspect their Miranda rights before interrogation. Arrests can occur without a Miranda warning being given, but if you are detained or taken into custody for questioning, the warning must be read before any questions are asked. If you state that you wish to remain silent, or invoke your right to an attorney, all questioning must stop.
- You can assert them yourself. Police officers are not required to give Miranda warnings immediately during an arrest, as long as they do so before interrogation. However, this means that your Miranda rights do not apply to the preliminary questioning of a subject before being placed in custody (such as when you are pulled over for suspected DUI). If you are pulled over and do not want to incriminate yourself, you can assert your Miranda rights yourself and ask to speak to a lawyer.
- You can waive them just by speaking. You don’t have to formally waive your right to self-incrimination. After you have been warned, all the police need to do is get you talking to use what you say. In other words, if you say something you regret, there’s no way to “take it back” under Miranda rights. For this reason, officers may repeatedly try to engage you in conversation, make jokes, or make small talk. Any response you give can incriminate you.
- You can change your mind. If you chose to speak to the police freely without an attorney present, you can change your mind at any time. You may say you no longer wish to answer questions, or that you want an attorney after all.
The right defense for your case will depend on the specific details of your situation, so it is vital that you speak with us as soon as possible. If you have been accused of committing a crime, The Law Offices of Steven R. Adams, LLC is here to help protect your rights. Call (513) 929-9333 today to get the answers you need in your free case evaluation.