The Miranda Rights were implemented 50 years ago to protect United States citizens against unethical police intimidation. Since then, police officers must read the Miranda Rights to you in any situation that guilt may be questionable.
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In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was interrogated by police officers, admitting his guilt to kidnapping and rape. In 1966, Miranda was convicted and sent to prison. However, his conviction was overturned due to questionable police interrogation and lack of witnesses. Eventually, he was retried fairly and found guilty. However, the Miranda Rights were issued to inform possible criminals against self-incrimination and their constitutional right to remain silent (the Fifth Amendment).
What Do the Miranda Rights Words Mean?
We hear the Miranda Rights in movies; we hear it in real life. But, what do the words of the Miranda Rights actually mean? Your Miranda Rights are not a cliché saying. As a United States citizen, they are your legal rights that you can invoke during a police officer interrogation. Understanding your rights is vital during an encounter with a police officer.
“You have the right to remain silent.”
The right to remain silent is a right given to you by the Constitution. When a police officer is interrogating you, it is your right to tell the officer you wish to remain silent. When you invoke your Miranda Rights, legally the police officer must stop the questioning.
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Anything you say to the police officer will be used against you in the courtroom. This includes any subtle omission such as “I’m sorry” or “I didn’t see the other car.” If you feel like you may have been in the wrong during a situation, ask for an attorney immediately before incriminating yourself.
“You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
In all incriminating cases, you have the right to an attorney. However, you must voice your want or need of an attorney to the questioning police officer. Just because you have the right does not mean the police officer will stop questioning you. You must say to the police officer, “I will not speak until my attorney is with me.” Anything you say prior to or after invoking your Miranda Rights can still be used against you. Therefore, speak with caution or not at all.
“Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
These two questions can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” response. With your response, the interrogating officer must adhere to your wishes. If you reply that you do wish to speak, the officer will continue questioning you and anything you say may be used against you. It is important to remember that if you choose to speak to the officer after your Miranda Rights have been read to you, you are waiving your Miranda Rights. If you reply that you do not wish to speak, the officer is not allowed to continue questioning you. If the officer does, remain silent.