When police officers arrest someone, they often inform that person of their Miranda rights. The Miranda warning is a statement police officers must provide to individuals in state custody who are about to face questioning.
Individuals need to know their Miranda rights prior to police questioning so that they can properly assert themselves during that interaction with law enforcement. Many people have a basic understanding of their Miranda rights because the Miranda warning often features in movies and television shows.
Criminal defendants typically benefit from availing themselves of both rights if they want to have the best chance of avoiding a criminal conviction.
The right to remain silent
Anyone subject to questioning while in state custody has the right to remain silent. Police officers cannot compel someone to answer their questions, but they can try to trick them. Officers may keep someone in a room for hours, asking them the same questions repeatedly. They can lie to people about the evidence they have or make false promises.
If officers can get someone to contradict themselves or provide too much detail, that could help build the case against them. Even emotional outbursts because someone becomes frustrated or afraid could end up coming back to haunt them in court later. Individuals who use their right to remain silent have less reason to worry about the case that the state has against them when they go to trial.
The right to representation
The second part of the Miranda warning involves informing someone of the right to have an attorney represent them. This right is crucial during criminal cases, as the average person does not know how to assert themselves when dealing with the police and may be unfamiliar with the law.
Legal representation can be the most important protection available to someone accused of violating state or federal statutes. Those who use their right to an attorney can avoid mistakes early in their criminal matter that can limit their options in the future.
All too often, people think that they can simply cooperate with the state and that, in doing so, they’ll be able to avoid criminal charges. However, they may do themselves a real disservice by failing to assert both their right to legal representation and their right to remain silent while in state custody.