Miranda Rights: An Overview

The Miranda Rights are warnings that police officers need to give you before asking you any questions after your arrest. The purpose of the Miranda Rights is to ensure that anything said to the police is not done so while a suspect is under duress, being coerced or is without the legal representation he may want. An explanation of your Miranda Rights will help you better understand how this warning protects you.

When Miranda Warnings Are Required

The police do not need to read you the Miranda Rights just because you are being arrested. You need to be made aware of your Miranda Rights before you are questioned in connection to the crime you are being accused of committing. The rights that are laid out in the warning are directly applicable to the interrogation procedure, not to the process of being detained.

The Right to Remain Silent

You have the right to remain silent and decline to answer the questions being asked of you by the police. Aside from your basic identifying information, such as your full legal name and date of birth, the police have to inform you of your right to remain silent before asking you any further questions. However, if the police do not warn you of this right, and you answer their questions anyway, the information you provide can still be used as evidence for the prosecution if you choose to testify on your own behalf.

Anything You Say Can Be Used Against You

Every piece of information you give to the police while in their custody can be used by the prosecution in your trial. The police officers who question you may offer their assistance in exchange for information you may have. In reality, the police have little to no control over how the state handles your case once the evidence is handed over to the prosecution.

The Right to an Attorney

The Miranda Rights indicate that you have the right to legal representation while the police are conducting your interrogation. Once you invoke your right to an attorney, the police can still question you. It is up to you to refrain from talking until your lawyer is in the room. However, information that is gathered after you ask for a lawyer can be challenged in court by your defense attorney.

After being arrested, you should be polite to the police but refrain from giving information or answering questions unless you have a lawyer in the room to look out for your best interests. Ask for your attorney right away and consult with legal counsel before answering any questions beyond basic identifying information. Know your rights and when you should be read your Miranda warnings.

Joseph has been writing about criminal law for almost a year. He recommends visiting criminal attorney Mario Madrid if you have been arrested in the Houston area.