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  • Shenandoah Roath

You Have the Right to Remain Silent


On June 13, 1966, the Supreme Court of the United States published the landmark case Miranda v. Arizona, ruling that a criminal defendant must be informed of his rights before being subject to custodial interrogation. We all know what they are because of TV and movies, but what do they mean, and what do TV and Movies get wrong?


What are Miranda rights?

Miranda rights are the rights that you must be informed if you are suspected of committing a crime, are not free to leave, and are being questioned by law enforcement. Law enforcement is required to inform you of 1) your right to remain silent; 2) your right to an attorney before any questioning starts; 3) your right to have an attorney appointed by the court if you can't afford one; 3) your right to stop answering questions at any time; and 4) your right to speak to an attorney after questioning begins.


Do they have to be given whenever someone is arrested?

The biggest misconception about Miranda rights is that law enforcement is not required to read them to you when you are arrested. Let me say that again. Law enforcement is not required to read you Miranda rights when you are arrested. Despite what you see on Law & Order, they only have to read you Miranda rights if you are 1) in custody; and 2) being subjected to questioning by law enforcement. "In custody" means the reasonable person would not feel free to leave and go about his business. Subject to questioning means just that - law enforcement is asking you questions that might lead to incriminating information. So not all arrests require Miranda. For example, if someone is being arrested based on what other people are saying, and officers aren't asking any questions of the subject, Miranda isn't required.


What should I do if law enforcement asks me to speak to them?

ASK FOR A LAWYER. If you are being questioned, law enforcement is looking for answers to questions they already know. You WILL be asked incriminating questions, even if they say you can't get in trouble. If you have reached this point, you need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can protect your rights, and ensure you don't dig a hole you can't get out of.


If you or a loved one need the advice of an experienced attorney, get in touch with Roath Law. We will keep you informed every step of the way and make sure your rights are protected.