You have the right to remain silent...If you have watched any television shows or movies where someone was arrested, you probably have some familiarity with this phrase. This is just the beginning of the Miranda warning, which must be given by law enforcement officers when they take a suspect into custody. The full warning includes information about a suspect's right to legal counsel and warns the suspect that anything he or she says can be used against him or her in court.
How did the Miranda warning come about, and what impact may it have on criminal cases? These are the answers that we will address here in this blog. You can also find out about a particular case and your rights by contacting our firm for a confidential case review with an Orange County criminal defense lawyer, who will be happy to offer insight based on your unique needs.
First, let's take a brief look at the history of the Miranda warning. The roots of this issue can be traced back to June 13, 1966, when the Supreme Court handed down a decision in the case Miranda v. Arizona finding that suspects must be informed of their specific legal rights when arrested. The decision was based on a case where the defendant, Ernesto Miranda, was accused of robbery, kidnapping, and rape. Though the details have never been fully confirmed, Miranda was arrested and interrogated, at which point he confessed to the crime. He later recanted his confession, but he was tried and convicted.
Miranda's case was then taken up by the American Civil Liberties Union and an appeal was filed on the basis that his confession was coerced and false. The Supreme Court subsequently overturned the conviction and found that suspects must be informed of their rights prior to interrogation. Miranda was later retried and convicted in October 1966, but the Supreme Court's decision regarding arrestees' rights remains in force to this day.
Today, each state has its own variation of Miranda rights, which must be read by law enforcement when a suspect is taken into custody. Though the wording may vary slightly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, the general outline is as follows:
You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you. Do you understand these rights as I have read them to you?
The Miranda warning protects a suspect from self-incrimination, much like the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. With the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, it was officially established that suspects must be informed of their specific rights, as Miranda had claimed that he did not know he had the right to refuse to answer questions after he was taken into custody for interrogation.
It is important to remember that you must still answer certain questions if you are arrested, like your name, age, and address. It is also important to be polite and cooperative, while still exercising your Miranda rights to the fullest extent. Remember, even if you believe you are innocent, you may unintentionally say or do something that only provides law enforcement with information or evidence that could be used against you later on. Remain silent and invoke your right to an attorney.
If you have been arrested in the Orange County area, consider involving a criminal defense attorney at the Law Offices of Jacqueline Goodman. We are experienced and fight tirelessly for our clients, both inside and outside of the criminal courtroom. Call us sooner rather than later and let us start working to protect your rights to the fullest extent of the law.