“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
Anyone who watches cop shows on television has heard the Miranda warning at some point. It's a statement of rights recited to suspects when they are taken into custody for a criminal offense. While the word may vary slightly depending on which U.S. state you're in, your rights remain the same. That is, law enforcement agents are legally mandated to advise you of those rights before they can question you. Law enforcement officers are only allowed to ask for information such as your name, address, and date of birth before you're read your rights. Any information you provide the police after you are taken into custody and before receiving the Miranda warning is inadmissible in court.
History of the Miranda Warning
Coercive and intimidating police interrogation methods used to be commonplace. On June 13, 1966, Ernesto Miranda was accused of, and confessed to, the crimes of kidnapping, robbery, and rape. However, during the interrogation, police used intimidation methods which caused the conviction to be overturned. He was later retried using witnesses and other evidence where he was eventually found guilty but by way of a fair trial.
Another important case that led to the Miranda Rights was Escobedo v. Illinois in 1964, where it was declared that a suspect has the right to a lawyer during questioning if the police plan on using the answers against them in court, or if the suspect is being held and questioned against their will.
Because of these court cases, California district attorney Harold Berliner and deputy attorney general Doris Maier finalized the wording for the Miranda Warning in 1968, which helped both criminal suspects and police alike. Those being taken into custody were better aware of their legal options, and police authority was better upheld when they could get admissible evidence that wouldn't be thrown out at trial.
What Do the Miranda Rights Mean?
- The Right to Remain Silent – You have the right not answer any questions from the police to avoid incriminating yourself. It is a Constitutional right that only works when you use it, however. Some people are afraid that staying silent will make them look guilty. While the police can use visual observations in court, they can't use your silence as definitive proof of your guilt.
- Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You – Whatever you tell the police after being read your Miranda Rights will be used against you in court in whatever way is most incriminating. That's how the judicial system works, and it's why you should really consult an Arizona criminal defense attorney before speaking during a criminal interrogation.
- You Have the Right to an Attorney – You have the right to consult with or have a lawyer present when being questioned by the police. If you request a lawyer, they must stop the interrogation until your defense attorney is present. If you can't afford a lawyer, you still have the right to have one appointed to you by the court before questioning continues. Be sure to be clear when you are invoking your rights. It's not good enough if you simply say, “I think I should talk to an attorney.” You need to clearly and unequivocally state that you want an attorney and won't speak until you've consulted with them.
Because Arizona borders on Mexico, an additional warning is given to suspects who are not United States citizens, adding the following statement to the Miranda Warning:
“If you are not a United States citizen, you may contact your country's consulate prior to any questioning.”
Other states that border on Mexico, such as Texas and New Mexico, also use this addition. You'll find other variations throughout different parts of the U.S.
If you've been taken into custody for a crime, it's important to know your rights. The police must read you the Miranda warning, and we advise you to speak with an attorney before answering any questions. To hire an experienced lawyer who will fight aggressively to win your case, call the Springer Law Firm, LLC at (928) 774-6600 today.