There are basic rights and protections in place that do a lot for those facing criminal charges. They have the right to a criminal defense, the right to a speedy trial and the right to a jury comprised of their peers. There are also rights enshrined in the Constitution, such as the freedom from unreasonable searches, that can protect people and also help them defend against criminal allegations.
One set of rights that many people find confusing are those commonly called Miranda Rights. Even if you have never run into trouble with law enforcement, understanding your Miranda Rights can protect you. If you have already gotten arrested, it's important to understand if police somehow violated your Miranda Rights.
What are your Miranda Rights?
The term refers to a specific legal case that set an important precedent in the United States. This case established certain rights that a person under arrest has. If law enforcement officers violate those rights, that may invalidate some of the evidence they gather, including a confession.
Your Miranda Rights include the right to not answer questions or talk to police. You also have the right to speak with an attorney as soon as you are under arrest. Even if you don't have the money to afford a criminal defense attorney, you have the right to a public defender who can advise you on how to avoid criminal consequences after an arrest.
When do officers have to inform you of your Miranda Rights?
There is a lot of confusion about your rights and when law enforcement officers need to read the so-called Miranda Warning to the people they arrest. Many people think that if law enforcement does not rattle those words off while putting the handcuffs on them, police have violated their rights.
However, someone only needs to hear about their Miranda rights when law enforcement takes steps to question or interrogate them. In other words, information that you volunteer while under arrest but prior to official questioning can count against you in court without being a violation of your Miranda Rights.
Knowing and asserting your rights at the time of an arrest can protect you
Something you say in a moment of emotion or confusion could eventually convince the courts to convict you later. The best protection available when dealing with law enforcement is the protection that comes by not incriminating yourself.
Knowing your Miranda Rights, including the right not to speak and the right to consult with an attorney, can help you be your own best advocate at the time of your arrest. If you believe that law enforcement violated your Miranda Rights, that could play a role in a potential criminal defense strategy. Sitting down to talk with an attorney is usually the first step toward developing your defense.