You’ve probably seen enough scripted crime drama on television to know what Miranda Rights sound like. You know that you have the right to remain silent, and that anything you say can be used against you in court. But what else do Miranda Rights entail?
Did you know that you always have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning? Did you know that if you do not have the means to afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Police often question individuals without lawyers present. But you are not required to answer any of their questions under this right.
In boarder states such as Texas, New Mexico and California, suspects who are not legal citizens of America are read an additional right: If you are not a United States Citizen, you may contact your country’s consulate prior to any questioning.
Miranda Rights were established by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision regarding Miranda vs. Arizona as a way of protecting criminal suspects from incriminating themselves and to avoid coercion of a confession. As a result, the verb Mirandize was established. To Mirandize means to read a suspect his or her Miranda Rights.
Though the Supreme Court did not specifically state how the wording of the Miranda Rights should be used when arresting a suspect, a set of guidelines was created. These guidelines directly state that the person in custody must be always informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says must be used against that person in court be for he or she is interrogated. The person in question must also be informed that he or she has the right to speak with a lawyer and to have a lawyer at hand during questioning. Also, if he or she is destitute, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent him or her.
Miranda Rights do not have to be read in any particular order as long as they are adequately explained in detail. The courts have established a ruling that the rights must be “meaningful,” meaning that the suspect in question fully understands his or her rights. California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, North Carolina and Pennsylvania also add the following questions: Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me? A “yes” answer to both of these questions is considered a waiver. A “no” invokes the rights. A suspect’s silence is not considered a waiver because there could be a language barrier that prevents the suspect from comprehending his or her Miranda Rights.
Essentially, Miranda Rights are considered an extension of the Fifth Amendment, which protects against coercive interrogations. If you are ever arrested or brought in for questioning by the police, remember your Miranda Rights. They exist to protect you, innocent or otherwise. And you have the right to enforce them.