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What You Need to Know About Your Miranda Rights

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Jefferson County Criminal Defense AttorneyThanks to television, movies, and pop culture in general, you probably know that if you are ever arrested on suspicion of having committed a crime, you have the right to remain silent. But do you know why you have this right or why arrestees are reminded that they have it? If you are not 100% sure, you are almost certainly not alone. Many misconceptions and misunderstandings exist about the series of statements that are commonly referred to as a criminal defendant’s “Miranda rights.”

What Are the Miranda Rights?

We have all seen it on TV: A suspect is arrested and read their Miranda rights. However, it is more accurate to call them Miranda “warnings” or “reminders.” The specific wording may vary slightly, but reading a suspect their rights involves four distinct statements and one question.

The four statements are a reminder that:

  • You have the right to remain silent.

  • If you waive the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you.

  • You have the right to an attorney.

  • If you cannot afford legal counsel, a lawyer will be provided for you.

The question is simple: Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?

Where Does the Name “Miranda” Come From?

The four statements of the Miranda warnings are clarifications of two basic rights that are based on the promises made by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning are both guaranteed so that a criminal suspect is not forced into self-incrimination. The right to an attorney is also promised under the Sixth Amendment, but the Miranda warnings are more about self-incrimination and confessions than basic due process.

This means that the “Miranda rights” are actually constitutional rights that have existed for over 200 years. So, why do we call them “Miranda rights?” In short, Ernesto Miranda was a defendant in a criminal case in the 1960s who confessed to a crime because he did not know that he had the right to remain silent or that he had the right to an attorney. His case went to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the conviction based on his confession was overturned (he was later re-convicted on evidence that did not include his confession).

Since the Supreme Court’s 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona, a criminal suspect must be reminded or warned about these rights before being questioned by law enforcement. If the suspect is not warned, any information obtained during questioning is likely to be deemed inadmissible during the criminal proceedings.

Facing Charges? A Milwaukee County Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you have been arrested on criminal charges, do not answer any police questions until you have a lawyer with you. Contact an experienced Waukesha defense attorney at Bucher Law Group, LLC right away to ensure that your rights are fully protected. Call 262-303-4916 for a free consultation today.




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