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All You Need to Know About the Miranda Warning

All You Need to Know About the Miranda Warning

We’ve all heard the classic line “you have the right to remain silent” on television countless times. You’ve almost lost track how many times they’ve been heard on the airwaves, but we are willing to wager you don’t actually know much about it.

This blurb comes from what is known as the Miranda Warning. It is designed to protect the rights of a private citizen during questioning by the police. Developed in the 1960s, it’s the right of every citizen to have their Miranda rights explained to them before having to speak to the authorities.

Is It Allowed to Waive Your Rights?

If you are happy to speak to the police officer in question, you can confirm you have understood your rights and that you will speak freely without the presence of an attorney. However, if you change your mind or don’t approve of the line of questioning, you can decide to ‘plead the fifth’. This means the questioning should come to a stop until you speak to your attorney.

What If Your Rights Are Not Read Out to You?

Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, police officers may not read your Miranda Rights to you. This does not mean that your arrest will magically disappear – if there is plenty of evidence on offer without the need for questioning, your conviction will stand. It’s not a magic get-out clause, though your attorney can certainly use it in your defense.

Do Police Officers ALWAYS Need to Read Them Out?

No. Police officers can ask you questions if they want – however, you can always opt to not answer. In addition, your answer may not be used against you in a trial. You may not plead the fifth if a police officer asks you to produce your license and registration, for example.

I can’t Afford a Lawyer – Now What?

Your Miranda Warning states that if you cannot afford a lawyer that the courts will provide you with one. This means that a public defender, selected at random, will represent you in court. You always have a right to an attorney, even if you can’t afford one.

Suspects Must Give an Affirmative Answer

Before being questioned, suspects must give the affirmative first. Remaining silent does not equal giving the affirmative. For example, the suspect may be in shock and unable to understand what is happening, or they may not speak English.

In addition, if someone agrees to questioning but then decides against it, then the interrogation must come to an end.

Why the Miranda Warning?

In order to put a stop to police intimidation or coercive methodology, the Miranda Warning was put into place. In 1966, following Miranda v. Arizona, it was concluded that suspects required a sound system for knowing their rights under interrogation.

The Miranda Warning not only protects the suspect, but also police authority. It removes a grey area, where defendants could argue that the suspect was questioned under duress. If a suspect now confesses to a crime after affirming an understanding of his or her rights, the statements will stand.


About Viet N.

Legal analysis with a focus on cases in Florida. Dedicated to a fair and just legal system.