You may already know that if you are arrested, the officer may be obligated to read you certain rights. They're commonly known as Miranda warnings.
In fact, you may be able to recite a few of these well-known rights: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law..." But beyond that, you may not know what the arresting officers are supposed to say, and what that legally means for you.
Just a couple years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a series of decisions that modified the rules about Miranda rights and warnings (named after another Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, in 1966). So here's a good opportunity to review what police are required to say.
First, there's no pre-written script that police must adhere to. But officers must inform all criminal suspects about the following warnings and rights:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
- You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation;
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you;
- You can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you do so, the interrogation must stop.
- You can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must stop.
The police will typically end the Miranda warning by asking you if you understand the rights as they are read to you.
You might notice that the last two points from above are often omitted in pop culture references, or are stated in a different way. In fact, most states have their own particular variation of Miranda requirements. So if you are unfortunate enough to be arrested in different jurisdictions, the Miranda warnings you receive may be slightly different.
Additionally, Miranda warnings do not have to read you in every situation. For example, if you are technically not in police custody or under police interrogation, the Miranda warnings may not apply.
But as seen on TV, a failure by police to give proper Miranda warnings when required can sometimes derail a criminal prosecution. If you have questions about Miranda warnings and how they apply to your specific situation, don't remain silent: An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help.