You may know that you have the right to remain silent if you are ever arrested, but do you know what you have that right or why you were reminded about it? If you are not sure, you are not alone. There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the series of statements commonly known as the “Miranda rights.”
What most people know as their Miranda rights are more accurately described Miranda warnings. They consist of four statements and a question:
The wording of the statements may change slightly depending on the jurisdiction and the arresting officer, but the overall content must be consistent. These statements summarize two of the most basic rights in criminal law: the right to be free from self-incrimination promised by the Fifth Amendment and the right to legal counsel when accused of a crime promised by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
While the rights themselves date back to the passage of the Bill of Rights in 1791, the name Miranda did not become part of the equation until 1966. Three years earlier, a young man named Ernesto Miranda was brought in for questioning by police in Phoenix in connection with an alleged kidnapping and rape. Miranda confessed to the crimes, and the confession was used a secure a conviction at trial. After his conviction, Miranda filed an appeal claiming he did not know he had the right to have an attorney present during questioning nor was he aware of his right to remain silent.
In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court vacated Miranda’s conviction in Miranda v. Arizona, holding that the police must inform suspects of their rights before interrogation. Upon retrial, Miranda was convicted again, but the reminders bear his name even today.
One of the most common myths that abound about Miranda warnings is what happens if they are not read. If you are arrested and the arresting officer does not read you the Miranda warnings, your case will not be automatically dismissed. The warnings are only required before questioning, not immediately upon arrest. For example, if you were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, the police might have very few reasons to question you right away. You could be taken to jail without being read your rights.
If you are questioned, however, without being reminded of your rights, any information gathered during questioning will likely not be accepted as evidence by the court. The same is true if you are read your rights and you request an attorney, but questioning continues before your lawyer arrives.
If you someone or you love is facing criminal charges, contact an experienced Santa Clara County criminal defense lawyer. Call 408-277-0377 for a confidential consultation with Wesley J. Schroeder, Attorney at Law today. We will work hard to ensure that your constitutional rights are fully protected.