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What should you know about Miranda rights?

On Behalf of | Feb 15, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Understanding Miranda rights is crucial for anyone who is navigating the criminal justice system. These rights are pivotal in protecting individuals’ constitutional freedoms during police interrogations.

Miranda rights, stemming from the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona, (generally) must be read by law enforcement officers to a suspect in custody before interrogation begins. These rights inform the suspect of their right to remain silent, that anything they say can be used against them in court and their right to an attorney.

When Miranda rights are required

Officers must read Miranda rights when a person is in custody and subject to interrogation. Being in custody means the person isn’t free to leave based on the officers’ control over the environment. Interrogation refers to any words or actions by the police that they should know are likely to elicit an incriminating response. If an individual is not in custody or if they are in custody but not being interrogated, officers are not required to read Miranda rights.

Invoking Miranda rights

After Miranda rights are read, individuals can invoke these rights at any point. To invoke the right to remain silent, one must state that they are exercising this right. To invoke the right to an attorney, the individual must make it clear that they wish to consult with an attorney before speaking. Once these rights are invoked, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present or the individual voluntarily chooses to resume talking.

The role in defense strategy if rights are violated

If Miranda rights are violated, meaning the rights weren’t read before interrogating a suspect in custody, any statement or confession obtained can be deemed inadmissible in court. This exclusion is known as the Miranda exclusionary rule.

In a defense strategy, if it is established that a violation occurred, the defense can file a motion to suppress the statements made by the defendant. This doesn’t automatically invalidate the entire case but can significantly impact the prosecution’s evidence, potentially leading to a dismissal or reduction of charges if the prosecution’s case relied heavily on the suppressed statements.

Successfully arguing that a defendant’s Miranda rights were violated can be a powerful component of an individual’s criminal defense strategy. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to determine whether such violations have occurred and what should be done to rectify this wrong.