• Your Miranda Rights
  • 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 enforcement procedures
  • 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 remain silent."
  • 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 questioning.
  • 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 today."
  • 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 procedures
  • Q. At what point are police required to inform a suspect of their Miranda rights?
  • 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 rights?
  • 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 Miranda rights?
  • 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 in court.
  • 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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