The Miranda Warning is one of the best-known legal protections for criminal defendants. It is also one of the most misunderstood. People frequently misinterpret and misunderstand their Miranda rights, sometimes with dire consequences for their criminal cases.
If you recently got arrested by the police and now face criminal charges, it is admirable to want to start planning your defense strategy as soon as possible. However, it is crucial that you don’t misunderstand your options and develop a false sense of confidence, which frequently happens to people who do not understand the Miranda Warning, when it is necessary and what impact it may have on their defense strategy.
What is the Miranda Warning?
The Miranda Warning is a verbal statement issued by police officers prior to questioning an individual in state custody. The right of those under arrest to know about their Miranda rights is the result of a federal court case from decades ago.
To this day, people generally understand that police should tell them the Miranda Warning. They know that they have the right to an attorney and the right to remain silent. What they may not understand is what constitutes a violation of those rights.
Police do not have to give the warning at the time of your arrest
Despite what you may have heard from others or seen on television shows, the Miranda Warning is not inherently required at the time of someone’s arrest. A surprising number of people assume that if an officer does not tell them of their right to remain silent and right to an attorney while putting them in handcuffs or in a police cruiser, then they can use that as the basis for a defense and have the charges against them thrown out of court.
Those are unrealistic expectations. Police officers only have to provide the Miranda Warning prior to questioning someone already in their custody. They can arrest you without questioning you and never provide the warning. They can also question you prior to arresting you without informing you of your Miranda rights.
Understanding the rules that apply to the Miranda Warning can help you decide if a violation actually took place in your case and will make it easier for you to plan your criminal defense strategy.