We’ve all seen police shows and courtroom dramas that depict a law enforcement officer who, immediately after making a lawful arrest, reads aloud a list of dues known as the “Miranda rights.” Thanks to popular media, you’ve likely heard the same phrase time and time again. Many individuals may even be able to recite the first few lines from memory:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
This catalog of rights—our “Miranda rights”—must be recited if the police want to interrogate a person in police custody. This may seem simple, but Miranda rights are still widely misunderstood. This confusion can be significant if you’re ever arrested or questioned in connection to a crime. If you aren’t aware of how your statements can be used against you and what your rights are after an arrest, you’re at serious risk of implicating yourself in a crime.
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
The term “Miranda rights” comes from a historic 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona. The court held that if the police want to question a person in police custody, they must inform them of their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incriminating statements and their right to an attorney. The police must convey the following 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 an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
Despite TV shows and movies regularly depicting an officer reading the Miranda warning immediately after an arrest, this isn’t always the case. In reality, a law enforcement officer must read the suspect their Miranda rights before custodial interrogation starts. If an arrest occurs with no interrogation, the Miranda warning isn’t necessary at that time. In other words, if a person is in custody, the police must read the Miranda rights only if they want to ask questions and use the answers as evidence at trial.
Note that if someone isn’t in police custody, no Miranda warning is required and anything the person says can be used at trial. Police officers often avoid arresting people so they don’t have to give the Miranda warning. Then they can arrest the suspect after getting the incriminating statement they wanted all along.
Can You Escape Punishment If the Police Don’t Read You Your Miranda Rights?
Many individuals believe that if they’re arrested and not read their rights, they can elude any consequences associated with the crime. In reality, this isn’t true. What’s important to note, however, is that if the police had you in custody and questioned you about the alleged crime without providing the warning, the prosecution typically wouldn’t be able to use your resulting statements at trial. This may, in turn, help you avoid consequences due to a lack of evidence, but this isn’t always the case.
Your Miranda rights protect your Fifth Amendment privileges to have an attorney present during questioning and to avoid incriminating yourself. This is a cornerstone of the criminal defense system and it’s vital that you report any infringements to an experienced attorney. Whether a Miranda warning was provided or not, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help guide you through the trial process and obtain the best possible results for you or your loved ones.
Contact an Experienced Montgomery County Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Miranda rule is complex, with accompanying loopholes and quirks. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime, it’s important that you speak with an expert criminal defense lawyer who can explain to you the full extent of the law as it pertains to your case. The Southeastern Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. are dedicated to fighting for your rights and protecting your interests throughout the legal process. Our highly trusted and skilled legal team understands the rules and regulations surrounding Miranda rights in the State of Pennsylvania and will be with you every step of the way.
For nearly 68 years, the attorneys at Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford have been serving the legal needs of clients in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Philadelphia. We’ve earned the trust and respect of clients facing a wide range of legal problems. Our attorneys are ready to protect you and guard your rights. Call (215) 822-7575 or complete our online contact form today.