Most people can recite the popular Miranda warnings as a result of all of the legal dramas that can be seen on television. Cops, Law and Order, and CSI: Miami are just a few of the many admired television shows that depict the relationship between the police and the general public.
“You have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you”, and most importantly, “anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” The last question the cop will ask you is: “Knowing these rights, are you willing to answer my questions without having a lawyer present?” The answer should be NO!
What most people do not know is the purpose of the Miranda warnings. Miranda warnings are provided to let the person know that the police will respect your rights when you are in custody (well, at least they are supposed to). Whether you have been arrested multiple times before, or this is your first time, the police are required to provide the warnings.
All persons who are taken into custody and being questioned are provided the Miranda
warnings, in an attempt to dispel the coercive environment that is inherent when a person is in custody. What does it mean to be in custody? The test used to determine when someone is in custody is whether a reasonable person would feel he or she is free to leave.
Most people think that as soon as a person is taken into custody, the police must read the Miranda rights. This is not the case; only when the suspect is in custody and before being questioned. The trigger for Miranda is custody + interrogation.
The warnings attempt to make you aware that the police are not your friend. Anything you say can and will be used against you. The police do not have your best interests at heart. During questioning, the police are not trying to help you, they are trying to build a case. Clients often think they can help themselves by talking to the police. You cannot talk your way out of criminal charges!
The best thing you can do if you find yourself being questioned is to ask for an attorney. Once you say the magic word “lawyer,” all questioning must stop. But, remember once you say “lawyer” you cannot initiate any further conversation with an officer. If you happen to say anything after requesting a lawyer, the law states that police can begin to question you again… so ask for a lawyer and exercise your right to remain silent! If you were not able to contact your Miami criminal defense attorney prior to, or during any police questioning, get in touch with your lawyer as soon as possible!
What happens if the cops violate your Miranda rights? If the police failed to read you your rights and you made incriminating statements while in custody, the State may not be
able to use those statements against you in court. Remember: You have the right to remain silent. However, the fact that Miranda rights were not read will not invalidate an arrest.
The best way to protect your rights is to resist the urge to talk, and ask to speak with a lawyer. If you did make statements, it is important to contact your attorney, and discuss the possibility of getting any incriminating statements thrown out. Miami Criminal Defense Attorney Chad Piotrowski has an excellent reputation for standing by his clients and challenging every aspect of the state’s case against you. Let Mr. Piotrowski do the talking for you.