Many Americans don’t know much about their civil rights, but they probably know about the Miranda Warning. After all, even someone who has never had a conflict with law enforcement will likely have watched a movie or television show where the police arrest someone.
They will have heard the arresting officer provide the Miranda Warning to the person in handcuffs. Unfortunately, getting information about your legal rights from popular media might mean that you have an inaccurate understanding of what rights you actually have and the requirements of the Miranda Warning.
If you are like many Americans, you probably believe a very popular myth about the Miranda Warning.
People don’t understand when officers must provide the warning
Given the way that arrests play out in TV shows and movies, it is not surprising that many people believe that police officers have to inform them of their Miranda rights at the time of their arrest. That is what the media depicts. Police officers recite the warning when they put someone in handcuffs or shove them into a police cruiser.
A police officer does not have to advise you of your right to remain silent or your right to an attorney at the moment of your arrest. Instead, they have to notify you about those right before they question you after arresting you. They can question you before an arrest without providing the Miranda Warning, and they can arrest you without warning you if they don’t question you.
What does a violation of your Miranda Rights mean?
If police officers truly failed to advise you of your right before they questioned you, then you may be able to use that failure in your defense strategy. Information from the interrogation or interview may not be usable in court by the prosecution. Defendants can sometimes even have confessions thrown out if they were not properly Mirandized before they confessed.
This right is so strong that police officers should provide interpretation for those with a language barrier preventing them from understanding the spoken Miranda Warning in English. Knowing your rights will make it easier to respond to pending criminal charges.