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What are Miranda Rights?

Posted on October 18, 2019 in assault & violent crimes

Everyone has watched a police procedural and heard the following after the metal clink of handcuffs closing:

You have the right to remain silent.  Everything 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 one, one will be appointed for you by the court.

These are the classic Miranda warnings.  But what are they, and what could be so important that the police are required to tell you about it before questioning you?

Miranda Rights Explained

Miranda rights originate from a case here in Arizona.  In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled in Miranda v. Arizona that inculpatory statements made in response to an interrogation will be admissible in trial only if the government shows that a defendant was informed of his right to an attorney and of his right to remain silent, and that not only did the defendant understand the rights but voluntarily gave them up in order to speak with the police.  This decision was crafted in order to protect a person’s rights under the 5th and 6th Amendments to the United States Constitution.

As the case law surrounding Miranda has evolved, it has become a much narrower requirement.  Now, the police are only required to provide Miranda warnings when they engage in a “custodial interrogation,” which has been very narrowly defined.  The police may continue questioning if the defendant was ambiguous in invoking his rights, and courts may find subsequent statements to be an implicit waiver of their rights.

Your rights to remain silent, to not self-incriminate, and to have the assistance of a Phoenix criminal defense attorney are central to protecting yourself.  It is understood that these rights are important, after all, the police are required to tell you that you have the rights.  So how do you protect yourself?

  • Tell the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent. Do not say “I think I shouldn’t say anything,” but clearly state “I am invoking my right to remain silent.”
  • Tell the officer that you are invoking your right to an attorney. Do not ask “do I need an attorney?” or say, “I think I should probably get an attorney,” but instead say “I am invoking my right to an attorney.”
  • As soon as practicable, call and speak with an attorney.

If you have been arrested, make sure that your rights are protected.  Call an experienced, aggressive attorney with experience in handling claims related to Miranda.  Call AZ Defenders at (480) 456-6400 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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