Have you ever watched a movie or TV show and heard a police officer say, “You have the right to remain silent?” Of course you have. But why do the police say this?
The “right to remain silent” is one of the rights afforded to those who are arrested due to suspicion of criminal activity. These rights — and a defendant’s right to know them — are illuminated by the legal case Miranda v. Arizona. This case established the legal precedent of a suspect’s right to know his or her Fifth Amendment protections. Before questioning an arrested person, police must inform him or her that the Fifth Amendment offers the right to stay silent and not volunteer potentially incriminating information.
Your Miranda Rights include four specific things that police have to tell you:
— 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; and
— If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you;
When police fail to advise you of your Miranda Rights, prosecutors may not be able to use the things you say against you. Confessions made and/or incriminating information provided without knowing your rights are likely to be ruled as “involuntary” statements and inadmissible as evidence in criminal court.
Imagine police arrest you for an alleged robbery. They handcuff you and take you back to the police precinct, where they begin to interrogate you in a forceful manner. Frightened and scared, you issue incriminating statements about yourself. However, the police and interrogators never advised you of your right to remain silent. As a result, none of the incriminating statements you made will be considered admissible in court.
Many defendants have won their criminal cases due to the failure of police to advise them of their Miranda Rights. This is a powerful law that every criminal defendant should consider when navigating the criminal justice system.
Source: FindLaw, “‘Miranda Rights’ and the Fifth Amendment,” accessed July 07, 2017