Watch enough TV and you could be under the impression that if you are not Mirandized, you simply walk away from the crime. While there are always exceptions to every rule, generally speaking, this is not the case. However, when your rights are not read to you, some of the evidence collected can be thrown out, hurting the prosecution’s case.
What Are My Miranda Rights?
If you are a Law & Order fan (or any of the “legal” style shows these day) you probably already know them. For everyone else, here is a rundown of your rights:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- If you give up this right, anything you say or do can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to counsel. If you cannot afford counsel, counsel will be appointed to you by the courts.
- You may answer questions without your attorney present, but also have the right to stop answering questions at any time until you speak with your attorney.
Each jurisdiction may tweak the actual wording, but this is the essence of the warning. Once the warning is read completely, you will be asked if you understand your rights and if you wish to answer questions without an attorney present. At this point, you can agree to answer questions or refuse and wait until you have legal counsel present.
When Do the Miranda Rights Have to be Read?
This is another misconception due to how these rights are handled on many TV shows. The officers do not necessarily have to read the Miranda Warning at the scene. The only requirement is that when you are held for interrogation, these rights must be read prior to any questioning.
What About Questions the Officer Asks Prior to Arrest?
Unfortunately, these answers can be used against you in a court of law. At this point, you are not arrested or charged, the officer is merely seeking information. If the information provided leads to an arrest, the officer will then take the individual into custody and read the Miranda Warning.
While you do have the right to refuse to answer any questions at any time, there are “exceptions” to providing information to an officer. In this case, the most notable exception would be during a traffic stop when the officer asks for identification. If the person refused to provide this information to the officer, it could make the situation worse and result in extra charges.
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