Accused Arizona gunman Jared Loughner has invoked his Miranda Rights, including his right to remain silent since his arrest and has said "not a word," according to Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, ABC reports. Jared Loughner, who is presumed innocent at this point, is wise to remain silent and assert his 5th Amendment rights.
Jared Loughner has been charged in the Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords shooting, where 19 people shot in Tucson Saturday. Loughner, like all criminal defendants, has the right not to say a word to police, or anyone.
Miranda rights are a common part of the lexicon (Hollywood loves having cops read the warning), but they are often misunderstood. Most people are roughly familiar with the idea that police are supposed to read them their rights when they are arrested, such as:
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?"
The Supreme Court of the United States held in Miranda v. Arizona, that an elicited incriminating statement is inadmissible evidence unless the suspect was properly informed of the right to right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel and makes a knowing, intelligent and voluntary waiver of those rights.
That's where a lot of people get confused. For example, sometimes people think that if they are arrested and never read their rights, their case is automatically dismissed. Not true.
Miranda rights protect your right to be informed that you don't have to answer police questions if they interrogate you. However, if they don't need your statement, or you offer statements to the police without their help, Miranda is not going to protect you. Further, even when police do violate your Miranda rights, the case is generally not automatically dismissed. Instead, the particular statements in dispute are simply kept out of evidence.
In Jared Loughner's case, anything (and more accurately everything) he says at this point is going to be used against him by the police and prosecutors. His back is against the wall and he finds himself in a nearly hopeless legal situation. The best possible thing he can do at this moment is to invoke his right to remain silent and say nothing except for that he would like to see an attorney.
- Sheriff: 'He specifically targeted the congresswoman' (Washington Post)
- Your Rights: Miranda and the Fifth Amendment (FindLaw)
- MIRANDA v. ARIZONA, 384 U.S. 436 (FindLaw)