If you’ve watched enough TV, you have likely seen at some point a scene where a person is getting arrested. When it happens, you hear one of the arresting officers tell the person they’re handcuffing that they have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and everything they say can be used against them in a court of law. Or at least that’s what they’re supposed to say. These are known as the Miranda rights, and if you or a loved one gets arrested and the officers do not tell them to you, any information they may have obtained from you during and after the arrest may not be used in court later on to convict you. But, what exactly are these rights? How did they come to be? And, how do you know if your rights are being protected?
What are Miranda rights?
In 1969, a case named Miranda v. Arizona made it all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). It was a case revolving Ernesto Miranda, a man who was identified in a police lineup as the perpetrator of kidnap and rape. Once the victim picked him out, the police took Mr. Miranda to an interrogation room, where they proceeded to question him for hours. His statements were then offered to the prosecutor, who used them to get him convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
The rights of a criminal defendant are clearly specified in the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the 5th amendment establishes the right against self-incrimination, while the 6th amendment establishes the right to an attorney. The problem with what occurred in the Miranda case is that not everyone is familiar with the Constitution, and police officers should never assume that people are aware of their rights.
Since Ernesto Miranda was never informed of his rights, he appealed the case all the way to the Supreme Court. In a 5-4 decision, SCOTUS ruled in favor of Mr. Miranda, stating that all criminal defendants have certain constitutional rights — and that unless the defendant is explicitly informed of these rights at the time of their arrest and at the time of interrogation, nothing they say can be used against them at trial. Therefore, all arresting and interrogating police officers should inform defendants of the following:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to speak with an attorney
- The right to have a lawyer present at all times during an interrogation
- If the defendant cannot afford an attorney, a public defender will be appointed
- Everything the defendant says can be used against them in court
These rights apply even if the defendant starts speaking and then changes their mind and chooses to remain silent moving forward. Also, if the interrogation stops at some point and resumed later on — regardless of whether it’s on the same day or on another day — the interrogating officers should remind the defendant of their Miranda rights. These rights also apply to everyone getting arrested in the United States, regardless of their citizenship status.
Call Clark Law If You’ve Been Arrested in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has been arrested in Tampa Bay and are now facing criminal charges, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best course of action.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.