The United States Constitution gives people in this country some very specific rights. Some of those rights have to do with police interactions. For example, the Fifth Amendment gives people the right to avoid incriminating themselves.
The rights of people to avoid self-incrimination were upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the case Arizona v. Miranda. This is where the Miranda warning stems from. When police officers detain and question someone, they must alert them to their Miranda rights in a clear manner.
Be sure you understand your rights
When law enforcement officers read you your Miranda rights, make sure to listen carefully and fully understand what they are telling you. The warning will advise you of the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present during questioning and the understanding that anything you say can be used against you in court.
Clearly invoke your rights
To invoke your right to remain silent, calmly and clearly state that you wish to remain silent. You must state that you’re invoking your rights. You can’t simply remain silent because questioning can continue until you speak up to invoke your rights. Some options you have for invoking your rights include stating that:
- I choose not to speak to police officers
- I invoke my right to remain silent
- I want to speak to my lawyer before answering questions
Once you invoke your rights, questioning by officers has to stop. The invocation is absolute, so they can’t switch to a new set of officers and resume questioning.
Invocation of your rights isn’t an admission of guilt
Choosing to invoke your Miranda rights can’t be construed as an admission of guilt. Even if you’re charged and the case goes to trial, it mustn’t be assumed that you’re guilty just because you chose to remain silent or speak to your attorney before speaking to police officers.
Anyone who’s involved in the criminal justice system should ensure they understand their rights. They can play a valuable role in any defense strategy that an attorney may craft on behalf of a defendant.