Understanding Miranda Rights
At Eisenberg Law Offices in Madison WI, we want to ensure that your rights have been protected throughout your dealings with the criminal justice system. One of the rights you are afforded is the “right to remain silent.” The Miranda Rights is a warning given to criminal suspects held in police custody. The warning prohibits any interrogation by police officers without a lawyer present. The warning is administered to protect people’s Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in criminal proceedings. The Miranda Rights must be read to the individual being arrested. Failure to do so may lead to the suppression of any evidence or statements made in violation Miranda. Officers must ensure criminal suspects understand their rights. If they do not speak English, it is the officer’s duty to translate correctly so the suspect understands.
Although Miranda Rights do not have to be read in any specific order they do have to convey the same message each time. The following is one way an officer may recite the Miranda Rights:
“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 to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense”
Let’s begin by discussing the use of the Miranda Rights, then situations when Miranda Rights do not apply and lastly, when Miranda Rights are required.
What are Miranda Rights?
Miranda Rights are established to protect an individual in custody. The individual in custody must acknowledge that they have understood their rights when an officer recites them in order to constitute a valid waiver of the right to remain silent. Here is a basic list of statements that MUST be read:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to legal counsel
- The right to have an attorney appointed
- The right to have an attorney paid for if unable to pay the attorney
- Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law
- If you decide to answer any questions without an attorney present, you still have the right to stop answering at any time.
Situations When Miranda Rights do not apply
Miranda rights do not apply when a suspected person is not “in custody.” “In custody” means a reasonable person would believe he or she is not able to leave the presence of the officers.
Miranda Rights usually do not apply when drivers are stopped for suspected traffic violations. Police officers have the right to conduct an investigation, ask questions, demand personal identification and vehicle registration (insurance papers) prior to arresting a person or placing them “in custody.” Failure to answer the police officer’s questions is not a crime, but lying to an officer is obstruction.
When Miranda Rights are Required
Miranda Rights are required when a person is arrested or “in custody.” Whether it is in the middle of the street or in jail, Miranda Rights need to be read if the suspect’s statements are going to be used as evidence at trial. However, if a person is not in police custody and no Miranda Rights are required, anything the person says may be used against them in trial. Further, even if Miranda Rights are read, voluntary or uncoerced statements by a suspect are still admissible at trial.
Consequence of Failure to Provide Miranda Rights
Without the Miranda warning, any statement made by a person in response to custodial questioning cannot be used as evidence in trial. This also includes any physical evidence that was seized as the result of an illegally obtained statement. At times people tend to “blurt out” evidence or confessions before or after the Miranda Rights are delivered. These statements may be used in court against them. Let Eisenberg Law Office lawyers guide you through this complex and confusing area of law.
Eisenberg Law Office (ELO) Can Help Protect Your Rights
ELO criminal defense attorneys can help clients determine whether their Miranda rights were violated. We can help to prevent any illegally seized statements or evidence from adversely affecting your case. If you are charged or under investigation, ELO can help you. Contact us at your earliest convenience for a free consultation.