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What Are Miranda Rights?

“You have the right to remain silent…” It’s something most people can easily recite after seeing a few crime dramas on television. But what are Miranda rights, really? Where do they come from? When are you entitled to them? The answers may surprise you.

Also known as a “Miranda warning,” Miranda rights originate from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case: Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the Supreme Court held that criminal suspects must be informed of their right against self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment and their right to legal counsel under the Sixth Amendment. Prior to the Court’s decision in Miranda, police were not required to inform criminal suspects of their constitutional rights.

When the police place an individual under arrest or a person is taken into police custody, police must inform them of these rights. Although the Miranda warning tends to follow a sort of script on legal and police shows on television, the language does not necessarily have to follow a certain format, nor do police have to read them in any particular order. Per another Supreme Court case – California v. Prysock – the Miranda warning is adequate as long as the police fully and adequately inform the suspect of his or her rights.

Police must tell the person some form of the following:

  • The person is being placed under arrest
  • The person has the right to stay silent
  • The person has the right to a lawyer
  • If the person can’t pay for a lawyer, a lawyer will be provided to him or her
  • Anything the person says can be used against him or her in court

The police must also confirm that the individual understands the rights. Furthermore, the police are only required to read someone the Miranda warning if the police plan to question the person.

Your Right to Stay Silent

If you are stopped by the police, you do not have to answer any questions about a suspected crime. Beyond giving the police your identifying information, such as your name and vehicle registration information, you always have the right to refuse questioning. Police officers are trained to elicit information from people, and they frequently use pressure tactics designed to confuse and intimate people in their custody. It is always best to have an attorney by your side before speaking to the police.

Mark Diaz & Associates – Houston/Galveston Criminal Defense

Do you have questions about your rights in a criminal matter? Call the law office of Mark Diaz & Associates at (409) 515-6170 for a free consultation to discuss your case.

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