Top 5 Facts About Miranda Rights

The United States Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. In that case, the court ruled that when a suspect is in custody and is going to be interrogated, the police must give the suspect specific legal warnings regarding their 5th Amendment right to remain silent and their 6th Amendment right to an attorney.

But the Miranda decision only applies to a very specific set of circumstances: when a suspect is in custody and makes statements in response to police questioning.

Even though Miranda warnings have become commonplace, many people have misconceptions when it comes to Miranda warnings, when they apply, and what they mean.

#1: Your Miranda Rights

The Miranda rights are usually given as follows:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney before speaking to the police and during any questioning by the police, now and in the future.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning.
  • If you decide to answer questions without an attorney present but later decide you want an attorney, you still have the right to stop answering questions until you talk to an attorney.
  • Knowing your rights as they have been explained, are you willing to answer a police officer’s questions?

#2: If Police Violate Miranda, Your Answers Can be Excluded from Trial

If the police do not give you the Miranda warning before an in-custody interrogation, all answers made in response to police questioning while a suspect is in custody can be excluded and not admitted into evidence at trial.

#3: Miranda Only Applies to In-Custody Interrogations

Miranda only applies to questions police ask when a suspect is in custody. The court decided Miranda v. Arizona in favor of the defendant because of the deceptive and coercive techniques that police officers used when questioning suspects in 1966. At that time, it was not uncommon for police officers to use psychological pressure or physical force to coerce a suspect to admit to having committed a crime. As a result, Miranda only applies to situations when a suspect is in police custody.

The facts of Miranda had nothing to do with police techniques that were used before the suspect was in custody. Miranda does not apply to situations when the suspect is not been placed under arrest. For example, a suspect who is questioned at the side of the road during a traffic stop during a suspected DWUI is not in custody. Therefore, Miranda does not apply. Similarly, people suspected of domestic violence are often questioned at the scene of the domestic dispute. Because they are not in custody during their interactions with the police, Miranda does not apply. In both of these situations, police officers may have enough evidence to believe a crime was committed without the need to place a suspect in custody and ask questions.

In many instances, police will not interrogate a suspect after the suspect is taken into custody. The police may believe they already have enough evidence to prove that the suspect committed a crime. Or they could have gained enough evidence from statements that were made before the suspect was in custody. In these cases, police will not need to question a suspect once the suspect has been taken into custody.

#4: Police Officers Must Stop Asking Questions When a Suspect Asks for a Lawyer

Miranda warnings protect a suspect’s right to remain silent, as well as their right to an attorney. However, police will only stop asking questions if a suspect asks for a lawyer, not if the suspect asserts their 5th Amendment right to remain silent.

#5: Miranda Only Applies to Responses to Police Questions

Miranda warnings exist to discourage coercive police interrogation techniques. They do not apply if a suspect voluntarily makes incriminating statements that are not in response to police questioning.

People suspected of committing a crime often make statements while being handcuffed or placed in the back of a police car. Statements made in these situations, which are not in response to police questioning, are not covered by Miranda. If the suspect is not being interrogated, Miranda does not apply and the statements are admissible at trial.

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Ms. Williams and her team proudly serve people in Northeastern Wyoming and Western South Dakota. Learn more about the cases we handle and why clients choose us, then contact us today to schedule a personalized case review and strategy session to discuss your case and how we can help.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.