Miranda Rights Explained
Miranda Rights are often a misunderstood concept by layman. This blog will briefly describe when your Miranda Rights apply and how to properly invoke your rights.
What are your Miranda Rights?[You] have the right to remain silent, anything [you] say [will] be used against [you] in court of law,…[you] have the right to the presence of an attorney,…if [you] cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed [to you] prior to any questioning if [you] so desire.
Everyone who has watched television shows or movies has heard the Miranda Warnings spoken. It was a Supreme Court case in 1966, Miranda v. Arizona which established Miranda Rights.
But what does the Miranda Warnings even mean? Stated plainly, these words protect people who have been (1) placed into custody and (2) questioned by police. Once in custody the police officer must advise you of your Miranda Rights. This includes: the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney prior to questioning you. If the officer violates your Miranda rights, evidence and statements obtained illegally are excludable in your trial.
Remember, for Miranda Rights to apply, you must both be in custody and questioned by a police officer. If an undercover police officer, jailhouse informant, or a citizen questions you, then Miranda Rights do not apply. Moreover, if you are not in custody, then your Miranda Rights do not apply.
Invoke Your Miranda Rights
How to Invoke your Right to an Attorney
How do you invoke these rights? Let’s start with the right to an attorney. To invoke the right to an attorney, you must be clear and unambiguous. Preferably you must state, “I am invoking my right to an attorney.” The Court interprets anything less, such as “I think I want an attorney” or “I may want an attorney” as unclear and ambiguous, thus allowing the police to continue interrogating you.
How to Invoke your Right to Remain Silent
How do you invoke the right to remain silent? Like most things in law, the right to remain silent is not intuitive. The Police Officer just told you that you can remain silent. This leaves most with the impression that to invoke this right all you must do is not talk at all. However, simply remaining silent may do more damage than good to your case. Although counterintuitive, you cannot simply remain silent to invoke your right to silence. You must actually speak to invoke the right to remain silent.
But what words must you say? Just like invoking your right to an attorney, you must use clear and unambiguous language, preferably saying, “I am invoking my right to remain silent.” Once again, anything less like “I think I want to be silent” is not invoking your right. Therefore, the police can continue the questioning and use any statements against you.
Once you speak these words, you must follow through and remain silent. Do not talk to police officers, the District Attorney, your cell mates, or friends and family about your case. Only speak to the District Attorney or police officers through your attorney. If you break your silence and speak, the courts may believe you waved your rights to remain silent. Once waived, your statements can are admissible.
The Benefits of Invoking Your Miranda Rights
What happens once you invoke both of your rights? Simply stated, the officer must stop interrogating you. A violation of your Miranda rights may result in the exclusion of illegally obtained statements and evidence in your trial.
When you invoke your Miranda Rights, you prevent Police Officers from gathering evidence against you. Furthermore, you prevent Police Officers from using interrogation techniques against you that are designed to obtain confessions. This often weakens the Prosecutor’s case. Often, there may be very little evidence against a defendant. Sometimes the only strong evidence the prosecutor has is a confession. Fortunately, if you properly invoke your Miranda Rights, you can deny the prosecutor the strong evidence he often needs to convict you of a crime.