The 1966 Supreme Court decision in Miranda vs. Arizona resulted in the Miranda warning—the familiar “You have the right to remain silent…” The Supreme Court established that those who are in police custody must have their rights read to them prior to police interrogation (many cases don’t require interrogation). Until 1966, many criminal suspects were not aware of their rights and thus incriminated themselves during this process. Suspects must still provide basic identification information, with or without the Miranda warning.
When are my Miranda Rights Triggered?
If the police fail to give the Miranda warning to a suspect in custody prior to questioning, any statement or confession they gather is considered involuntary. It cannot be used against the suspect in court. All evidence discovered via that statement will likely be thrown out, too. Although potentially a big blow to the prosecution, other witnesses and evidence may still save the day.
However, if someone is not in police custody—and it is made clear to them that they are free to go at any time—no Miranda warning is required. Sometimes the police avoid arresting someone for that very reason. If the suspect says anything incriminating, he/she can be arrested at that point.
Exceptions to the Miranda warning include an imminent danger to the public (e.g., a suspected terrorist is arrested and may know the location of a bomb) and the utilization of a jailhouse informant, who serves as a proxy for the police.
The Miranda warning is a staple of our legal system. If you find yourself in police custody, utilize your Miranda rights and contact a criminal defense attorney.
If you have been charged with a crime, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer. Please contact the Law Office of Ben Crittenden at 907-771-9002 for honest, relentless representation. You can also visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or this Blog for more information.