If you've ever watched a Hollywood crime show, you've probably heard the phrase, "You have the right to remain silent" when a suspect is arrested. These seven words usually come shortly after the phrase, "You are under arrest." But do you know exactly what it means when a law enforcement officer makes this particular statement, and are you aware of your rights as a crime suspect under the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights?
The 5th Amendment
The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is very important when it comes to criminal defense. This amendment guarantees the right to a Grand Jury, forbids "double jeopardy," and protects the accused against self-incrimination. In any criminal trial, this amendment requires that there is due process of law in any proceeding that denies "life, liberty, or property," which could be any criminal case where the punishment is potential imprisonment.
What are Miranda Rights?
The phrase, "You have the right to remain silent" has given the very serious Miranda Rights pop-culture fame. Despite being an infamous one-liner in many cop shows, Miranda Rights are actually very important in criminal proceedings.
Created in 1966 as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda vs. Arizona, these rights were instituted as a way to protect the suspect's Fifth Amendment rights, primarily the right to not self-incriminate. Any arresting law enforcement officer must administer these rights after a suspect has been arrested, and the officer must ensure that the suspect understands these rights. If the suspect does not speak English, then his Miranda Rights must be translated to him in a language he understands.
Miranda Rights include the following:
- 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 appointed for you.
Important Notes About Miranda Rights
There are a few things to know about being arrested with regards to your Miranda Rights.
Miranda Rights do not go into effect until after you are arrested. If you are questioned by law enforcement prior to an arrest, the information collected may be admissible in court as long as the law enforcement officer tells you that you are free to leave at any time and any statements you make must be voluntary.
If no Miranda Rights are given when you are arrested, any statement or confession that is involuntarily made cannot be used in court. Additionally, any evidence collected as a result of an involuntarily made statement will be thrown out.
However, if a suspect is arrested and no Miranda Rights are given and the suspect makes voluntary or spontaneous statements to law enforcement, those statements may be used against the suspect in a court of law.
In any case, when you are arrested, you should contact an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney who can advise you on avoiding self-incrimination following your arrest. If you think your Miranda Rights have been violated, it's a good idea to consult with your attorney because it's possible that your case may be impacted due to the violation of your Fifth Amendment rights. A violation of Miranda Rights could possibly mean a dismissal of charges.
Fifth Amendment. (2017, October 10). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/fifth_amendment
Miranda Rights. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from http://www.mirandarights.org/
'Miranda Rights' and the Fifth Amendment. (n.d.). Retrieved March 14, 2018, from http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-rights/miranda-rights-and-the-fifth-amendment.html