Many of us have seen a television or film featuring people getting arrested and the police reading them their rights. Based on the portrayal of police procedure in popular media, many people understand the following when it comes to Miranda rights:
- Miranda warnings are required for all arrests
- Not reading your Miranda rights can endanger a case
- Statements cannot be used against you unless you were Mirandized
However, these statements are inaccurate to some degree. Unfortunately, misconceptions regarding Miranda rights can be very detrimental to your case. That is why it is important to set the record straight about Miranda warnings.
What Are Miranda Warnings?
The term “Miranda warnings” or “Miranda rights” refer to a U.S. Supreme Court decision about police interrogations in the case Miranda v. Arizona, 386 U.S. 436 (1966). In the Miranda case, the Court held that law enforcement officials are required to inform arrestees about their right to remain silent and their right to assistance of counsel during “custodial interrogations.” As a result, it became common practice for police to recite some version of the following to arrestees prior to questioning:
“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 speak with an attorney and him them present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning, if you wish. You can decide at any time to exercise these rights and not answer any questions or make any statements. Do you understand each of these rights I have explained to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to talk to us now?”
Why Do We Have Miranda Rights?
Miranda rights stem from the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Furthermore, each state constitution has some version of these rights. Under the Fifth Amendment, no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” This is also known as the privilege against self-incrimination. It is the same right witnesses exercise on the stand when they “plead the fifth.”
Additionally, under the Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, “the accused shall enjoy the right…to have Assistance of Counsel for his defence” in all criminal prosecutions. Technically, the Sixth Amendment right to an attorney is an instrumental aspect of criminal due process that the Fifth Amendment also guarantees.
Are Miranda Readings Necessary for an Arrest?
Even the TV and film consistently depicts the two occurring virtually simultaneously, Miranda warnings are not necessary to effect a lawful arrest. Although shows and movies portray Miranda warnings as indispensable for arrests, technically they are only necessary for what is known as “custodial interrogations” because arrestees are more vulnerable to intimidation tactics in such situations.
Does the State Still Have a Case Absent Miranda Readings?
It is common in popular media portrayals of police procedures for the prosecutor or District Attorney character to make a big stink about someone forgetting to provide Miranda warnings in a case. Being Mirandized is only crucial in a case to the extent that the arrestee’s statements are essential for the prosecution’s argument. For example, if there is direct evidence that the defendant possessed drugs, whether or not they received Miranda warnings is immaterial to drug possession charges.
Remember, Miranda rights are meant to protect people against compelled self-incrimination. If you volunteer self-incriminating statements to the police before they arrest you, those statements can be used against you in court regardless of receiving Miranda warnings.
Contact Ted Morgan Law for More Information
When someone is arrested, it can be difficult for them to understand the true nature and extent of their rights as a criminal defendant. That is why it is important for you to consult an experienced attorney from Ted Morgan Law. You can greatly benefit from the experience of Attorney Ted Morgan throughout criminal proceedings.For a free phone consultation, call Ted Morgan Law at (706) 622-6255 or contact us online today.