The civil rights of individuals going through a police encounter have changed over the years due to court rulings. The Miranda Warning is an example of a relatively new but powerful form of protection for those in the United States facing arrest and questioning by law enforcement officers.
The Miranda Warning became a common part of police procedure following a court ruling in 1966. The text for the Warning as it currently exists has been around since 1968, and it helps advise those under arrest of their critical civil rights when facing criminal charges.
Unfortunately, there is a surprising amount of misinformation floating around about Miranda Warnings and the role they play during an arrest. Understanding when a cop must give you your Miranda Warning and what that warning means for your rights can help you to better advocate for yourself during an encounter with police or when facing criminal charges.
The Miranda Warning relates to questioning, not the arrest itself
Television shows and movies focused on police love to show officers rattling off the Miranda Warning as they put handcuffs on someone or place them in the back of a vehicle during an arrest. While officers can and sometimes do advise someone of their Miranda rights at the time of an initial arrest, they are not under obligation to advise someone of those rights until immediately prior to questioning or interrogation.
If you talk to an officer prior to an arrest, that situation does not necessarily require a Miranda Warning. If officers arrest you but do not formally question you, the fact that they did not advise you of your Miranda rights will not invalidate either the arrest or the charges brought against you. However, if they do not advise you of your Miranda rights before questioning you after an arrest, you may be able to have anything said during that questioning excluded from criminal proceedings.
What rights does a Miranda Warning involve?
There are two primary rights in the Miranda Warning. The first is that those questioned by police have the right to remain silent and not answer questions during an interrogation. The second is that anyone arrested and charged with a serious offense has the legal right to an attorney, even if they cannot afford a private attorney for themselves.
Having an attorney present during questioning can help protect those accused of a crime from making verbal missteps that might impact their rights or their future criminal defense.