How to make the Miranda warning help, not hurt

Television shows and movies that deal with criminal themes frequently make reference to the Miranda warning or Miranda rights. This common inclusion in pop culture can sometimes lead California residents to believe they know what this law is.

However, what is portrayed on TV or in a movie is far from the whole story. Whether a DUI, a drug charge or accusation of murder, people suspected of breaking the law should be sure to learn how the Miranda warning truly works. Doing so is the only way to make sure it actually helps them when needed instead of actually hurting them.

What Exactly Is The Miranda Warning?

The Miranda warning is based upon a ruling from the United States Supreme Court from June of 1966. For 48 years, it has essentially allowed suspects to choose when or if they wish to participate in questioning by law enforcement officials. It is similar to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution in its aim to prevent self-incrimination.

How Could The Miranda Warning Actually Work Against A Defendant?

While the Supreme Court instituted the Miranda warning 48 years ago, just last year it handed down another ruling that could dramatically change the way many people viewed the law. In order to actually invoke the Miranda warning, a person must request it directly. The lack of response to questions is not sufficient.

In fact, it is the lack of any response to police questions that can hurt a defendant in a criminal defense situation. Anything a person says, does, does not say or does not do can be used in proceedings related to the case. This includes facial gestures or expressions, body language, sounds such as sighs or grunts and more. By remaining silent, a person may believe he or she is protected but, in reality, is not.

Is The Warning Always Followed?

The Huffington Post ran an article regarding a person involved in the bombings at the Boston Marathon in 2013. While in the hospital, on pain medication and with his jaw wired shut, the suspect was subjected to police questioning. The article indicates that multiple times the man indicated his desire to cease questioning. The usability of any testimony from this incident is up to the court.

What Are The Basics Of The Warning?

The most important things to know about the Miranda warning include the following:

  • A person stopped by police must always provide his or her name, address, phone number and any other biographical data even if invoking the Miranda warning.
  • A person can still be arrested even if leveraging the Miranda warning and the arrest can take place without an officer reading the Miranda rights to the suspect.
  • Police must read the full text of the Miranda warning before asking questions other than identifying data.
  • If a person indicates his or her wish to not answer questions, officers must respect that decision and stop all questions.

Additionally, if a person has initially agreed to answer questions, he or she can choose to stop at any time. The suspect can also indicate a desire to answer questions after initially refusing to do so.

The Importance Of Legal Help

The nuances related to the Miranda warning illustrate the importance of getting the right legal help when faced with a potential criminal matter. Contacting an attorney before answering questions is in the best interest of any suspect.