Whether you’ve heard it on a television show or a movie, most Americans know that in some cases the police are required to “read you your rights.”
The Miranda rights originated in a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling – Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 – which declares that whenever a person is taken into police custody, before being questioned he or she must be told of the Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a series of decisions which modified the rules surrounding Miranda rights.
The Miranda rights consist of the following:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you
- You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop
- You can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must cease
There are two basic prerequisites before the police can issue a Miranda warning to a suspect: the suspect is in police custody (being arrested) or is under interrogation. If the suspect is not formally in police custody or is not being interrogated, the police are not required to read the suspect his or her Miranda rights. Therefore, anything the suspect says can be used as evidence against him or her.
If the police fail to make sure you are aware of your Miranda rights, nothing said in response to a custodial interrogation can be used against you. Furthermore, any evidence that is gathered from improper custodial interrogation is also considered inadmissible. For example, if law enforcement fails to read you your Miranda rights and questioning you leads them to contraband, that contraband and the contents of that interrogation are both inadmissible unless they can demonstrate they would have found the contraband without your statements.