Imagine you have never been arrested by the police and one shows up on your doorstep out of the blue after an incident, looking to make an arrest – you may be feeling intimidated, sure. This is why the Miranda Warning was created in the 1960s, to protect the rights of those questioned by the police in a threatening manner. If you are one of the many people intimidated by the police, the Miranda Warning will come into handy in your case because it is an easy and acceptable way for the police to read your rights to you. The wording is simple and goes as such: “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?”

When is the Miranda Warning Actually Required?
If a person is in custody, the police must read the Miranda rights to an individual under any circumstances. This can happen in any situation in which a police officer wants to ask questions and use the answers at evidence in trial, regardless of where – the scene of a crime, in jail, a busy street, or an open field… the possibilities are endless! However, if somebody is not in police custody and they give up information, that can be used at trial without the warning. This is why, in many cases, police will avoid arresting people so it is easier to get the information out of them. After an incriminating statement is made, they will arrest the suspect.

Pre-Arrest and Post-Arrest Questioning

  • Pre-Arrest: Usually, you do not have to respond to police questions if you have not been arrested (and sometimes even when you have been arrested). A police officer cannot do much to arrest a person simply for a failure to respond to their questions.
  • Post-Arrest: Most attorneys will tell you to keep your mouth shut about your case when you are being questioned after an arrest, until you consult them. Suspects will usually give up too much information about their case that may later be used as evidence of their guilt.

Can I “Plead the Fifth?”
In some cases, a police officer may ask to see your driver’s license or proof of insurance; in these cases, you cannot decline because they are legally allowed to ask for that. However, if they begin questioning you about an incident and they are prepared to use this against you at trial, you are permitted to “plead the fifth,” which is exercising your Fifth Amendment rights to not cooperate.

Will an Officer Get Into Trouble if they do Not Read my Rights?
When an officer does not read the Miranda rights, what the arrestee says in response to questioning cannot be used in most cases for trial. This is a consequence to the police, who thought they could get around it. If an officer coerced a statement out of a suspect, then the statement is admissible and the officer could get into trouble for doing so.

The Miranda rule may be a very complex law to understand. Because of this, if you are arrested and charged with a crime and there are discrepancies, you should consult an attorney. Call the Law office of Peter Blair for representation you can trust.