Gladden Legal, LLC

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What does it mean to be read your Miranda rights?

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you the right not to incriminate yourself. What that actually meant did not have a clear definition until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on the case of Ernesto Miranda in 1966. At that time, police interrogated him for two hours until he confessed to a violent crime.

When he signed a statement regarding the crime, police included language indicating that he signed the statement with the full understanding that the government could use the statements against him in court and that he understood his rights. However, he did not understand his rights, and no one had explained them to him.

The results of the case

Because he did not understand his rights and no one had told him he could request an attorney, the court ruled that he did not voluntarily waive his rights. In the aftermath of this case, anyone taken into police custody is to be aware they have the following rights:

  • To remain silent
  • That anything they say could be evidence the court uses against them
  • To request an attorney
  • That if they cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one

Police must advise you of these rights before they begin to question you. If they fail to do so, any statements you make will not count against you, since the courts consider them involuntary statements. Moreover, the court will not admit any evidence found because of your statements into evidence.

What this means for you

You should know that police only have a requirement to advise you of your rights after placing you under arrest. Any statements you make before that happens could end up as evidence against you. Therefore, you should not make any statements regarding the situation from the time you come into contact with police, not just after your arrest, if that happens. In addition, you must make it clear to police that you intend to invoke your right to remain silent and that you want to speak with an attorney.

It is not enough for you to simply not speak. You must assert this right, without ambiguity, that you do not want to answer any questions. You have the right to do this before an arrest. While keeping silent may not prevent an arrest, it will prevent you from making statements that could incriminate you. The only other thing you may say is that you want to speak with an attorney.

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Roswell, GA 30076

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