Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights

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In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the historic case of Miranda v. Arizona, declaring that whenever a person is taken into police custody, before being questioned they must be told of the Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements. When an officer "reads you your rights," you aren't required by law to speak with the police and may request an attorney.

The following is an overview of your Fifth Amendment Miranda rights, including when police must read you your rights and what happens when they fail to do so.

Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights at a Glance

Miranda rights are rooted in the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination. Petitioner Ernesto Miranda confessed to a violent crime after two hours of police interrogation and signed a statement that he confessed "with the full knowledge of [my] legal rights, understanding any statement I make may be used against me." However, he was never explained these rights.

The Court ruled that the interrogation was coercive in nature and that he wasn't informed about his right to an attorney. Therefore, they concluded, he didn't voluntarily waive these rights when he signed the statement because he didn't understand his rights. Had he retained legal counsel, he probably wouldn't have been so forthcoming during the interrogation.

As a result of Miranda, anyone in police custody must be told four things before being questioned:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

What if the Police Fail to Advise Me of My Miranda Rights?

When police officers question a suspect in custody without first giving the Miranda warning, any statement or confession made is presumed to be involuntary, and can't be used against the suspect in any criminal case. Any evidence discovered as a result of that statement or confession will likely also be thrown out of the case.

For example, suppose Dan is arrested and, without being read his Miranda rights, is questioned by police officers about a bank robbery. Unaware that he has the right to remain silent, Dan confesses to committing the robbery and tells the police that the money is buried in his backyard. Acting on this information, the police dig up the money.

When Dan's attorney challenges the confession in court, the judge will likely find it unlawful. This means that, not only will the confession be thrown out of the case against Dan, but so will the money itself, because it was discovered solely as a result of the unlawful confession.

Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney About Your Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights

If you believe that your Miranda rights have been violated, this can have a significant impact on your case and may even lead to a dismissal of any charges against you. That's why it's crucial to have a strong criminal defense lawyer in your corner. If you have important questions about criminal law or need representation, get started today by finding an experienced criminal defense attorney near you.

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