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I’ve never actually been read my Miranda Rights…what are they?

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Upon arrest with intent for interrogation, police in the United States are required to read a suspect their Miranda Rights so that they understand what they are allowed to do and how their subsequent actions might affect them. The Miranda Rights are composed of four major factors that each suspect is to be made aware of before being brought into jail.

The right to remain silent

This is the right that everyone remembers; in fact the one that started the whole Miranda Rights ball rolling in the first place back in 1963. Suspects placed under arrest must be made aware of the fact that if they say anything after being placed in handcuffs it can be used against them when the case comes to court. It sounds like a simple thing, but in 1963 when Ernesto Miranda confessed to kidnapping and rape upon his arrest his conviction was overthrown when he claimed he didn’t know he was allowed to keep quiet. The right not to incriminate yourself is a very useful one to know if you are ever placed under arrest.

You have the right to an attorney

Legal aide is always advisable following arrest, and if you do not have a lawyer then one can be provided for you by the state. If you are unsure whether legal representation is needed, you should be thinking about all the things you don’t understand about the legal system and how being without that information might easily hurt your chances in court. A lawyer will be able to tell you things you didn’t even know you should be considering, and also they will be able to help you make good decisions about the things you say to the police and investigators.

If you are not a United States citizen you may contact your consulate prior to questioning

For any people not actually permanently residing within the United States, arrest can be even more stressful than it would be with an American citizen. To fully understand your rights within the US legal system as a foreigner it is best that you speak with your country’s representatives and perhaps find out if you can have the trial set at home or if you can at least serve time at home if it comes to that.

With these rights in mind do you wish to speak to me?

A suspect must make it clear whether he or she has understood the Miranda Rights, and in some places a clear ‘yes’ must be heard before moving forward with the arrest. Arresting officers have had evidence thrown out of court because they failed to ensure the suspect understood their rights, and also for failing to deliver the Rights in a language the suspect could understand.

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