Most of us know that police should let a criminal suspect know of his or her "right to remain silent" during an arrest. However, it is less frequently understood what this right—included in the Miranda warning—means or how it could affect a criminal charge. Below, let's take a closer look at the Miranda warning and its critical importance in our criminal justice system.
What Is the Miranda Warning?
If you've seen a fictional character be arrested on TV or in a movie, it's likely you've heard at least part of the Miranda warning (or the "Miranda rights" as they are sometimes called). Law enforcement recites them to criminal suspects as they are arrested, a process that is often called being "Mirandized."
The Miranda warning is as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to have an attorney present during police questioning.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.
- You can choose to exercise this right at any time.
The Miranda warning was established to ensure that police officers and detectives do not take advantage of a criminal suspect while they are in custody. Being questioned by police is a high-pressure situation and many citizens are not always aware of how much compliance they are required to give law enforcement.
The Miranda warning ensures that an attorney can be present during questioning and make sure that the suspect's rights and interests are protected. Otherwise, police could rely on extracting self-incriminating remarks from a suspect, even if there was a possibility that they are innocent.
The Miranda Myth
Somewhere along the line, the public became exposed to the idea that if you are not Mirandized at the time of your arrest, your criminal charge can be invalidated. While this can potentially happen, it is not usually the case. The Miranda warning only protects what a suspect says to police after they are arrested—it doesn't affect other evidence that is collected before or after that arrest.
So for instance, let's say a suspect is arrested for auto theft after being found driving a stolen vehicle. He is not Mirandized and, under police questioning, admits to the theft. Theoretically, a defense attorney could suppress that admission because the client was not Mirandized—but the fact that the client was still found driving a stolen vehicle likely means that the criminal charge would stand. Suppressing remarks recorded during police questioning can often help a defendant's case, but the lack of a Miranda warning is a not an automatic "get out jail free" card.
If you've been arrested, then the time to seek capable, effective legal counsel is now. At the Law Office of Kevin F. Moot, Attorney Moot is a former prosecutor with an intimate knowledge of how our criminal justice system pursues convictions. He has the knowledge, insight, and resources to ensure that his clients' voices are heard and that every avenue towards a favorable outcome is thoroughly explored.
Don't face the allegations against you without a proven Broward County criminal defense lawyer by your side. Contact us today.