What Are Your Miranda Rights?

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Anyone who has seen the police arresting someone on TV knows what your Miranda Rights sound like. You may even have them memorized by now. But, do you know what they are and what they mean? To some people, they are just words that make your show more interesting. But, when your life hinges on them; they can be a problem.

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

The general verbiage is “You have the right to remain silent. The police will use anything you say can against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the state will appoint one for you.” These aren’t magic words; they don’t have to say exactly that. But, they do have to make clear that you can keep silent and you can have an attorney present, regardless of your income. And they must make you aware of these rights before you face an interrogation. There are rare cases that this isn’t true, but most are read their Miranda Rights when being arrested.

Does It Always Apply?

Your Miranda Rights apply to testimonial evidence that’s obtained during an interrogation. Your right to remain silent and your right to counsel is provided by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. For Miranda Rights to apply, there are six requirements:


There must be evidence. If the suspect keeps quiet, whether the police read them their Miranda Rights doesn’t matter.

The evidence must be testimonial. Any evidence that you give in the form of a DNA or handwriting (hair, dental, etc.) sample is not covered by your Miranda Rights or even the Fifth Amendment. There must be a statement given, although your Miranda Rights do cover certain “telling gestures.”

Obtaining Evidence

That evidence has to have been obtained while in the custody of the police. Establishing this is when the suspect submits to the control of the police in restraint, whether by force or voluntarily, or the officer outright states that they are arresting the suspect. The purpose of those rights is to offer protection in an atmosphere that may make them feel compelled to incriminate themselves. That doesn’t apply to motorists that are stopped. Though they are detained and unable to leave, they are not under arrest. It is also true of anyone who voluntarily comes to a police station for questioning. This is because they are there for investigative purposes, are not under arrest and are free to leave.

The police must have obtained the evidence during interrogation. Interrogation is express questioning likely to elicit an incriminating response. So, Miranda Rights do not cover you if you decide to speak and provide an incriminating response during a sobriety test.

Who Can Obtain Evidence

State-agents must be conducting the interrogation. This means that the suspect knows that the person conducting an interview is an officer. However, it is not if they are an undercover officer or a private citizen. There is some debate of security officers who are also police officers.

The state must offer the evidence during a criminal proceeding. The exclusionary rule of the Fifth Amendment applies to criminal prosecution. The court will have to determine the nature of the trial, based on the nature of the sanctions imposed.

If all six factors are, the suppression of the statement will depend on if the police advise the suspect their Miranda Rights and if they decide to speak anyway. There is also the possibility that an exception to the Miranda Rights applies. The defendant also can use state constitutions and criminal procedure statutes to challenge whether the statement is admissible. However, even immigrants who illegally reside in the U.S. still have Miranda Rights and the police need to make them aware of their rights. The application of these rights is not contingent on citizenship or its status.

Where Did They Come From?

On June 13, 1966, the Supreme court decided that all suspects must be made aware that they are not required to incriminate themselves, and they are entitled to an attorney. These are rights given by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, respectively, however, not everyone understands they are employed in the circumstances of arrest and interrogation. The originating case is a controversial one, but the result of the appeal was a defendant who claimed that he didn’t understand that he was entitled to silence. This was when Miranda vs. Arizona appeared before the Supreme Court, and they ruled in his favor.

If you want to read more about your Miranda Rights and where they came from, start here. But, the best place to start your research is with an attorney. They can tell you if your rights are in danger. They know the intricacies of the law, and this isn’t a chance you want to take. This is an excellent place to begin your search.

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