Anyone who has seen a TV crime drama is well-acquainted with the Miranda warning that officers are supposed to read to criminal suspects. Miranda rights are firmly part of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. However, do you know why they were created?
The rights were established in the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona after the arrest of Ernesto Miranda, who was accused of stealing $8 from an Arizona bank employee. After a two-hour police interrogation, Miranda not only confessed to the theft, but also kidnapping and rape.
What are your Miranda rights?
Because of the landmark case, police are required to inform suspects of these four rights before being questioned:
- The right to remain silent
- Anything they say or do can be used against them in court
- They have the right to an attorney
- If they can’t afford an attorney, one will be provided for them
Addressing myths over Miranda rights
Along with the familiar protections under Miranda rights, there are some common misconceptions, including:
- If you aren’t read your rights, your case will be thrown out: FALSE. Miranda rights only must be read if police plan to interrogate you.
- Prosecutors can use your silence against you in court: FALSE. Exercising your right not to tell your version of events cannot be viewed as proof of your guilt.
- If you start talking to the police, you are obligated to keep talking: FALSE. Even if you have waived your Miranda rights, you can change your mind and ask for an attorney. Police must immediately stop questioning you.
- If you don’t understand the consequences of waiving your rights, you can say your comments weren’t voluntary: FALSE. If you understand the fundamental Miranda rights, being unaware of the potential consequences is not a valid excuse if those comments result in charges against you.
Know your rights if charged with a crime
Miranda rights were established for the benefit of people accused of a crime, especially when police use extreme tactics to try to force them to confess to crimes. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney here in Missouri who will protect your rights and make sure police followed proper procedures if you are arrested.