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Miranda Rights: Setting the Record Straight

Miranda Rights: Setting the Record Straight

Miranda Rights Misconceptions

Due in part to the number of crime-related programs on television, the words “you have the right to remain silent” are known to most people, but not everyone fully understands what they actually mean, or when they actually apply.

The Miranda warning (often referred to as one’s “Miranda rights”) are important words to know and understand if you are ever arrested and questioned by law enforcement. The Miranda warning refers to just one of the rights that the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution offers individuals in custody who face interrogation by law enforcement.

Miranda Misconceptions

Probably the number-one misconception about Miranda rights is that if an individual is questioned by a law enforcement officer and not read their rights, that the information the individual provides is not admissible in court. This is not entirely true.

Miranda rights only apply to those in custody. Only once an individual is in custody (and prior to being questioned), law enforcement officers must read you your Miranda rights, or any answers you give to their questions may be inadmissible in court. If you are not yet in custody and admit to committing a crime, the information CAN be used in court to prove the state’s case.

If a law enforcement officer has “probably cause” that you are committing a criminal act, they can absolutely ask you questions without reading you your Miranda rights. The most common of these situations is a traffic stop. The law enforcement officer may believe you have drugs in the vehicle, and they’re free to question you about it. In this case, it is not necessary for the law enforcement officer to read you your rights, and you have no obligation to answer their leading questions.

Knowing the basics about Miranda rights is a great idea, but you shouldn’t attempt to interpret Miranda rights at the time of your arrest. Instead, neglect to offer any information (other than your name and address) to law enforcement officers, do what they tell you to do, and speak to your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible regarding your Miranda concerns.

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