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Miranda warnings protect defendants' rights

People in California may know that police are supposed to read them their rights in the case of an arrest, but they may not be aware of just how significant these Miranda rights can be. The standard warning was developed after a 1966 Supreme Court case that determined that people arrested by police must be informed of their rights against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment at the time they are taken into custody. While the warnings are well-known, partially because they are frequently featured on police TV shows, they provide a concise summary of constitutional protections afforded to those charged with a crime.

People arrested on criminal charges must be advised that they have the right to remain silent, that their words may be used against them in court, that they have the right to a lawyer and that an attorney will be appointed for those who cannot afford one. The words of the warnings matter because they serve as an official notification that arrested people do not need to speak to the police and can request a lawyer, no matter what other techniques the police may use in an attempt to extract a confession or other information.

When police fail to provide the Miranda warnings as required by law, this can have a serious effect on the outcome of a criminal case. People who do not receive these warnings may have any confessions or statements they make thrown out of court on the basis of a coerced or involuntary confession. Other evidence obtained as a result of the inadmissible confession might also be excluded from the trial.

People who are arrested by police may feel overwhelmed and unable to speak up for their rights. A criminal defense attorney may work to protect defendants' rights and advocate to prevent a conviction.

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