When must the police read me my rights?

Miranda v. Arizona, a landmark case decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1966, established the requirement for law enforcement officials to inform criminal suspects of their constitutional rights before custodial interrogations. The case revolved around Ernesto Miranda, who was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department on suspicion of kidnapping and rape. During the police interrogation, Miranda confessed to the crimes without being informed of his rights.

The Supreme Court examined whether Miranda’s confession was admissible in court and whether his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and his Sixth Amendment right to counsel had been violated. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the police had failed to adequately inform Miranda of his rights and that his confession was therefore inadmissible as evidence.

The Court outlined specific guidelines for custodial interrogations, which came to be known as “Miranda Rights” or “Miranda Warnings.” These rights include:

  1. The right to remain silent: The suspect has the right to refuse to answer any questions posed by law enforcement.
  2. Anything the suspect says can and will be used against them in court: Any statements made by the suspect during the interrogation may be used as evidence against them in a court of law.
  3. The right to an attorney: The suspect has the right to have an attorney present during questioning, and if they cannot afford one, an attorney will be appointed to them.
  4. The right to stop the interrogation at any time: The suspect can choose to end the questioning at any point, even if they previously agreed to answer questions.

The purpose of Miranda Rights is to ensure that individuals are aware of their constitutional rights and are not coerced or pressured into self-incrimination. Failure to provide Miranda Warnings when required can result in statements or confessions being deemed involuntary and excluded from trial. The Miranda decision has had a significant impact on law enforcement practices and the protection of individual rights during police interrogations.

The failure to read a defendant his Miranda warnings IS NOT AN AUTOMATICALLY FATAL FLAW IN THE PROSECUTION’S CASE! We often see on TV that a case must be thrown out due to a police officer failing to provide these rights. In fact, Miranda is almost irrelevant to a court case where the officer witnessed the illegal act. Whether the illegal act was having drugs on your person, striking an officer, or robbing a bank, if the officer witnesses it, he need not rely on your confession to make the case.

Always tell your lawyer if Miranda warnings were provided during police interactions… Then, exercise the rights outlined in them and REMAIN SILENT.