Many people have the exact phrasing of Miranda Rights memorized after years of watching courtroom television. However, they may not exactly understand what these rights are and how they come into play in a criminal trial. Whether police officers have properly read you your rights can impact your entire criminal trial.
How Your Miranda Rights Came About
The reason why they are called Miranda rights is that the Supreme Court first detailed this right in the case of Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. The police had arrested Miranda on suspicion of being connected to a rape and kidnapping. However, the only evidence that they had was circumstantial. They were hoping to fill in some of the gaps in their case by hearing from Miranda himself.
After two hours of interrogation, Miranda signed a statement confessing to the crime. He did not consult with an attorney before then. He was not even told that he had the right to call a lawyer. Miranda was convicted at trial, largely on the basis of his signed confession, even though his lawyer objected to its use in court.
Miranda appealed his case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. His argument was that law enforcement violated his constitutional rights under the Fifth Amendment by using his confession against him without telling him that he could have a lawyer present during the interrogation.
What Police Must Do Before They Interrogate You
The Supreme Court agreed with Miranda and overturned his conviction, sending it back to the Arizona court with the instruction that his confession could not be used against him. The Court explained that the coercive nature of an interrogation required attention to the suspect’s legal rights and an explicit warning. The holding in Miranda required police to do the following when interrogating a suspect:
- Prior to the interrogation, the suspect must be informed that they have a right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford one, a lawyer will be appointed for them
- If the suspect says that they wish to remain silent, the interrogation must be stopped
- If the suspect says that they want an attorney, the interrogation must be stopped until the suspect has an attorney
At the time that the decision in Miranda was handed down, it was considered to be a radical expansion of a suspect’s rights. Now, after over five decades of the rule being in place, Miranda is a firm part of American law.
A Miranda Rights Violation Is Not Always Clearly Apparent
However, law enforcement has also become far more clever in response to Miranda. They may try sneaky ways to get around the rule to still be able to interrogate suspects without a lawyer. Every so often, an important case comes to the Supreme Court that involves an interrogation and what can be used against the defendant. Since Miranda is a rule that is based on the Constitution, but not in the Constitution itself, judges may interpret it in different ways.
When Your Miranda Rights Apply to Your Case
In practice, police will inform you of their rights as soon as they arrest you, so they can begin to speak to you and try to learn information. However, they do not have the obligation to read your rights until they try to interrogate you. Then, police do not have to continuously remind you that you have the right to remain silent and get a lawyer every time they try to speak to you. There are two requirements for the Miranda rights to apply in your case:
- You must have been deprived of your freedom in some way
- Police officers must be trying to interrogate you (interrogation does not always mean that you are in a closed room with officers, just like in the movies)
These days, law enforcement knows better than to interrogate someone without reading them their rights. They may try tricks to make an interrogation seem like it is more of a friendly conversation, and the suspect does not feel coerced. They may ignore what seems to be an expression of a right to a lawyer, pretending that they did not hear it. Miranda always seems like it is under attack, and the Supreme Court has narrowed the doctrine over the years and carved out exceptions.
What Happens When Your Miranda Rights Are Violated
If the police do not follow the law and properly read you your legal rights, it does not mean that you are able to go free. Instead, it means that police cannot use anything against you that they gained from the interrogation. If they learned key evidence, it must be suppressed (along with anything that resulted from this evidence). If you confessed to the crime, like Miranda, the confession would be thrown out of court.
If there was a new trial, the charges would need to be supported by probable cause that is independent of the suppressed evidence. In Miranda’s case, his case was sent back to Arizona, where he was tried again for the crime. At the subsequent trial, he was convicted based on testimony from his ex-wife. It turns out that the prosecution did not need his confession in the first place. However, what happens in your case depends on your own specific facts. Courts would look at several factors, including:
- Whether you were free to go
- Whether you affirmatively expressed your rights
- Whether there was an interrogation happening at the time
- Whether law enforcement was really trying to use your statement against you
Contact an Appleton Criminal Defense Attorney Today
When law enforcement tells you that you have a right to an attorney, you should contact and hire one right away. Otherwise, you may do damage to your legal case by saying something that you should not have. Then, it can be used against you. The criminal defense attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff are standing by and waiting to get to work to protect your legal rights as soon as you hire us. You can send us a message online or contact us today at (920) 450-9800 to schedule your free initial consultation.