If you have even watched a single legal drama or criminal TV show, you will most likely have heard of Miranda rights. The show will portray a police officer arresting a person and as the arrest is happening, the officer says, “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 present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand?” The Miranda rights you’ve heard on TV apply to you in real life as well. It’s important to know your rights when being questioned.
The Basics for Miranda Rights
As required by law, if you are being taken into custody for interrogation, police officers must first read you your Miranda rights. Miranda rights are read so that the accused person knows what their rights are before and during police questioning. The right to remain silent comes from the self-incrimination clause found in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution. The right to having an attorney is founded in the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution.
Contrary to what you’ll see on TV, Miranda rights do not have to be read the second someone is arrested. It is only required that a Miranda warning is given prior to police questioning or interrogation of the suspect. Furthermore, an accused person can waive their Miranda rights at any point. A person being interrogated by the police can choose to talk and not have a lawyer present. However, at any point during the interrogation, the suspect can invoke their right to an attorney. While the rights mention that a lawyer can be provided if you can’t afford one, the police do not have to present a public defender immediately. The suspect will have to prove their need.