Beyond the right to remain silent

Ever since they were established in the 1960s, Miranda rights have occupied a keystone position in the American legal system. Unfortunately, there’s still a great deal of confusion about the actual rights and privileges that they confer. Even if you’ve never been arrested or detained, you should have a firm understanding of what Miranda rights mean for the average American.

When Does Miranda Apply?

Miranda applies when two things happen simultaneously: First, a person must be “in custody”; and second, a person must be interrogated by the State.

Right to Remain Silent

The most famous Miranda right is the so-called “right to remain silent.” This requires informing the defendant that he or she doesn’t need to answer any questions during the arrest process or subsequent interrogation.

Right Against Self-Incrimination

This is a related right that protects those who have been detained from making statements that could add to the weight of evidence against them. It’s often stated as a variation on the sentence, “Anything you say can be used against you in the court of law.” This provides defendants with a clear illustration that their words can be construed as evidence for their complicity in the crime for which they’ve been arrested.

Right to an Attorney

The right to an attorney can actually be broken into two related statements that most Miranda readings contain. First, the Miranda framework allows all suspects to use the services of a licensed attorney during their interrogation and subsequent court proceedings. This is often described as the “right to counsel.” Just as importantly, the Miranda reading must include an advisement that the suspect is entitled to an attorney at no charge in the event that he or she can’t afford to pay for one out of pocket.

Can You Be Arrested Without Hearing Your Miranda Rights?

Many people mistakenly believe that an arrest isn’t valid without a concurrent reading of Miranda rights. This isn’t true. Many people are never read their Miranda warnings upon arrest.

Thousands of law-abiding Hoosiers are arrested or detained on charges that are later dismissed or proven false in a court of law. As such, it’s critical that you’re cognizant of your rights and responsibilities under the law. To learn more about what your Miranda rights mean for you and how we can help you uphold them, call us today or fill out our online contact form.

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