- Miranda Rights
- As anyone who watches television police shows knows, people who have been arrested
have a right to remain silent and a right to an attorney; the Miranda Rights warnings
are meant to make sure that they know about those rights. Were your Miranda rights
violated?" In many cases, that's a question only the courts can answer.
More Q & A's concerning Miranda rights warnings and law
- What the Miranda Rights Say. (Right of Silence)
- The exact wording of the "Miranda Rights" statement is not specified in the Supreme
Court's historic decision. Instead, law enforcement agencies have created a basic
set of simple statements that can be read to accused persons prior to any questioning.
Here are paraphrased examples of the basic "Miranda Rights" statements, along with
related excerpts from the Supreme Court's decision.
- You have the right to remain silent.
- The Court: "At the outset, if a person in custody is to be subjected to interrogation,
he must first be informed in clear and unequivocal terms that he has the right to
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
- The Court: "The warning of the right to remain silent must be accompanied by the
explanation that anything said can and will be used against the individual in court."
- You have the right to have an attorney present now and during any future
- The Court: " the right to have counsel present at the interrogation is indispensable
to the protection of the Fifth Amendment privilege under the system we delineate
today. [Accordingly] we hold that an individual held for interrogation must be clearly
informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with
him during interrogation under the system for protecting the privilege we delineate
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you free of charge
if you wish.
- The Court: "In order fully to apprise a person interrogated of the extent of his
rights under this system then, it is necessary to warn him not only that he has
the right to consult with an attorney, but also that if he is indigent a lawyer
will be appointed to represent him. Without this additional warning, the admonition
of the right to consult with counsel would often be understood as meaning only that
he can consult with a lawyer if he has one or has the funds to obtain one. The Court
continues by declaring what the police must do if the person being interrogated
indicates that he or she does want a lawyer.
- "If the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease
until an attorney is present. At that time, the individual must have an opportunity
to confer with the attorney and to have him present during any subsequent questioning.
If the individual cannot obtain an attorney and he indicates that he wants one before
speaking to police, they must respect his decision to remain silent."
- Q & A's concerning Miranda rights warnings and law enforcement
- Q. At what point are police required to inform a suspect of their
- A. After a person has officially been taken into custody (detained
by police), but before any interrogation takes place, police must inform them of
their right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning.
A person is considered to be "in custody" anytime they are placed in an environment
in which they do not believe they are free to leave.
- Q. Can police question a person without reading them their Miranda
- A. Yes. The Miranda warnings must be read only before questioning
a person who has been taken into custody.
- Q. Can police arrest or detain a person without reading them their
- A. Yes, but until the person has been informed of his or her Miranda
rights, any statements made by them during interrogation may be ruled inadmissible
- Q. Does Miranda apply to all incriminating statements made to police?
- A. No. Miranda does not apply to statements a person makes before
they are arrested. Similarly, Miranda does not apply to statements made "spontaneously,"
or to statements made after the Miranda warnings have been given.
- Q. If you first say you don't want a lawyer, can you still demand
one during questioning?
- A. Yes. A person being questioned by the police can terminate the
interrogation at any time by asking for an attorney and stating that he or she declines
to answer further questions until an attorney is present. However, any statements
made up until that point during the interrogation may be used in court.
- Q. Can the police really "help out" or reduce the sentences of
suspects who confess during questioning?
- A. No. Once a person has been arrested, the police have no control
over how the legal system treats them. Criminal charges and sentencing are totally
up to the prosecutors and the judge.
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