Nearly everyone has heard Miranda rights read in movies, books, or other sorts of entertainment. Most people are aware that they have some sort of right to remain silent and a right to an attorney; however, most don’t know when to use those rights or what good they will do in the long run. The exact wording used when a person is read the Miranda Warning is as follows: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?” After that, the suspect may exercise those rights or forego those rights.
When Are Miranda Rights Read?
If a suspect is not in police custody, Miranda rights don’t have to be read. Police must inform suspects of their Miranda rights before beginning a custodial interrogation. Stopping a suspect on the street to ask questions does not mean that the suspect is in police custody, because the suspect is informed by police that he or she is free to go.
What if My Rights Are Not Read?
In some cases, a suspect may answer police questioning before being in police custody, in which case the police officers may no longer wish to question the suspect and may no longer need to read them their Miranda rights. Any voluntary statements (i.e. not prompted by police) made by the suspect while in police custody may be used in court.
If I Am Silent, Does That Affect Me in Court?
Silence, if handled correctly, can be a neutral influence on your case. However, the timing of your silence can arouse suspicion. It is important to know the most beneficial times for you to remain silent. Two types of silence are:
- Pre-Miranda Silence: If a suspect is silent before in police custody, police may become suspicious. In order to avoid this, a suspect may be able to claim that his attorney told him not to speak with the police before talking to him or her first. This explains the suspect’s silence and places the cause on a lawyer’s advice.
- Post-Miranda Silence: Once a suspect is in police custody, remaining silent cannot be used against that person in court. It is a right of all individuals.
Refusing to speak before entering police custody or prematurely hiring a lawyer is commonly viewed in a negative light by police and prosecutors.
Tha being said, claiming the right to request an attorney from the outset is usually better viewed in court than later changing your mind to request a lawyer. Even if you remain silent when first taken into police custody, you are allowed to change your mind and divulge information if you and your lawyer think it would be appropriate to your case.
Do I Need a Criminal Defense Lawyer?
Discussing your case with a lawyer can be immensely helpful, especially if you are unsure of your rights or the best approach to your circumstances. A lawyer can help you make a plan for what steps you should take and whether remaining silent is in your best interests. At Henderson, Mokhtari & Weatherly Co. L.P.A. , our skilled Cleveland criminal defense attorneys can provide capable legal guidance and experienced insight into your circumstances. With over 70+ years of experience and around the clock availability, you can trust in our legal services.