Miranda Rights – What are they, really?

Most of us grew up on police shows and movies where every time the bad guy was cuffed, the officer would read them their Miranda rights. But, in the real world, is that really the case? Are they actually required to read them? And will it help you in the courtroom if they don’t?

Due to the misnomers of television and movies, the real need for Miranda rights has become somewhat cloudy in the minds of citizens. So here’s a quick and simple Q&A to explain the proper use and meaning of Miranda rights and how that may help you if they aren’t administered properly.

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What are they?

Miranda rights, or the Miranda warning, is a right-to-silence warning given by police officers in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings. Basically, after you’re arrested, the police have to let you know that you have the right to remain silent before they interrogate or ask you any questions. You have a legal right to know that you don’t have to talk.

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When must they read them?

Here’s where the movies have led us astray. Miranda rights only need to be read if you’ve been arrested and further questions or an interrogation will take place. Therefore, you could be arrested and your Miranda rights could never be read because the officer isn’t going to ask further questions for your implication to a crime. So the two key points here are arrest and interrogation. If both don’t happen in that order, with Miranda in between, the process hasn’t been followed properly, which is something your lawyer should investigate because it could possibly be used to your advantage in the courtroom.

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What’s your best bet?

It’s simple – remain silent except to tell the officer that you would like to speak to your attorney before answering any questions. If a police officer is asking simple questions before arrest, you still have the right to not say anything. But if you’ve been arrested and your Miranda rights have been read, again, simply tell them you can’t answer any further questions without speaking to your lawyer.

Then, contact a lawyer who specializes in your specific case. Even if your Miranda rights were read at the right time, there are still nuances of every case that your lawyer can delve through to get the best possible outcome. Jonathan W. McConnell, a Wichita defense attorney can help. His expertise in criminal cases of all kinds can help get you back on track.

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