“You have the right to remain silent,” how many times have we heard that phrase on TV and in movies? Its depiction on screen has made most of us familiar with the Miranda warning. You probably know that law enforcement officers are required to read your rights before arresting you, but do you know what it means if they don’t?
What Is A Miranda Warning, And Why Is It Necessary?
When a person is detained by law enforcement, the officers must list their rights for them in the form of a Miranda warning. The Miranda warning explains their constitutional legal rights as covered in the Fifth and Sixth amendments before they are interrogated. These rights are listed below:
- You have the right to remain silent, you don’t have to say a thing, and in almost all cases, you should not. Even if you are innocent, do not speak without an attorney present.
- Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. Answering questions or offering explanations could incriminate you, and anything you say could be used against you.
- You have the right to speak with a lawyer and have them present during interrogation. Having representation is vital before speaking to the authorities. It is so important that the police must inform you that it is your right.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you before any questioning. This is yet another warning that speaking to the police without a lawyer present may not be in your best interest.
The United States Supreme Court made these rights mandatory after the 1966 Miranda v. Arizona decision. When suspects are taken into custody, they must be educated about their rights to silence and counsel before interrogation. Even if you have not committed a crime, do not waive your right to a lawyer.
How Do I Know if I Am In Custody?
If you are not allowed to leave, you are in custody. Being in custody may mean you are in jail, but it could also begin when you are in the back of a police cruiser. But your detention is not limited to those times.
You could be in a mall, on the side of the highway, in a convenience store, or in your own front yard. When your freedom to leave is impaired, and police ask you questions, they must read you your Miranda rights so that they can use your answers in a court of law.
If you are not being held for custodial interrogation, the police are not required to read your rights. But this does not mean you can say anything you want and will not be incriminated. On the contrary, anything you say can and will be held against you here. But, since you were not in custody if you answer questions or offer details of the situation, no rights are being violated, and anything you say can be useful when proving a case against you.
The Police Did Not Read Me My Miranda Rights, Will the Case Automatically be Dismissed?
If there is enough evidence to seek a conviction, without the incriminating statements, the suspect may still be charged with a crime. This may come as a surprise, but the Miranda warning only protects the suspect from things they may have said while in custody that would have been used to prove the case against them.
If you are in custody and have not been informed of your rights, your criminal defense lawyer can use this opportunity to make a motion to suppress any of the evidence that was gathered against you from statements you made while being interrogated. The motion would outline how your constitutional rights were violated. If your West Chester, PA, criminal defense attorney wins the motion, the evidence will not be admissible in court and will not be used against you.
If the prosecutor believes there is enough evidence for a conviction without the suspect’s words, they could proceed with the case. If the evidence is not there without the things the arrested person said before being Mirandized, the case can be dismissed by the judge, or the prosecutor may decide that the charges should be dropped.
Exercise Your Right to Have an Attorney Present
It is your right, and it could save you a lot of trouble. The Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers at Ciccarelli Law Offices will be beside you from the initial arrest until your case is resolved. Speaking to law enforcement without representation is ill-advised, but if you have already been interrogated and have questions about your constitutional rights, our knowledgeable, experienced team has answers. Reach out today to see how we can help you.