Police must read the Miranda warnings, informing you of your right to avoid self-incrimination when they arrest you and before they question you in police custody or in a situation where you are not free to leave.
When you first learn about the Bill of Rights in middle school social studies class, the Fifth Amendment seems like the most useless amendment. Why would you need the right not to incriminate yourself? Do people just go around confessing to crimes, just for kicks? Given that most of us do not learn more about our constitutional rights beyond what we learned in social studies class, this means that the right to avoid self-incrimination is one of the most misunderstood legal rights. In fact, plenty of defendants in criminal cases, upon getting arrested and hearing a police officer say, “You have the right to remain silent,” think, “Why would I want to remain silent, and how could someone possibly not have this right?” The Atlanta criminal lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can help you understand your rights in a criminal case.
How Do the Miranda Warnings Protect You?
You would not want to live in a society where police could torture you or otherwise confess to a crime. Defendants in criminal cases in the United States have the right to the presumption of innocence, and this includes the right not to incriminate themselves during trials, depositions, or questioning by police. In 1963, Ernesto Miranda confessed to a crime because he did not understand that he had the right not to confess. His subsequent legal challenge led to the Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona, in which the Court ruled that police must inform people they are questioning about their right to refuse to answer questions. The result is the Miranda warnings, which vary in wording from one instance to another, but always include the following elements:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say will be used in court as evidence to persuade jurors of your guilt
- You have the right to have a lawyer present during questioning
- The court will provide a lawyer for you if you cannot afford to hire one
In Texas, police also notify defendants that if they are not U.S. citizens, they have the right to speak with the consulate of their country of citizenship.
Police must recite the Miranda warnings when they make an arrest and before they question a suspect in custody. Even if you have not been arrested, the police must read the Miranda warnings if they are questioning you in a situation where you are not allowed to leave the premises until after the questioning.
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer can help you exercise the rights granted to you in the Fifth Amendment and other Constitutional amendments. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia, about criminal charges that stem from warrantless searches.