The 5th Amendment right against forced self-incrimination protects individuals from being a witness against themselves. All statements made during custodial interrogations of a government agent or law enforcement cannot be used against the individual without Miranda warnings.
A person’s Miranda rights must be invoked immediately upon an arrest or once in custody. The Miranda warnings are:
- You have the remain silent
- If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law
- You have a right to an attorney, and you have a right to have the attorney present during questioning
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
The right to remain silent is a constitutional right afforded to all people in the United States while being questioned by the police, which the Fifth Amendment provides. This means that if an individual has been arrested, they are not required to answer any questions posed by law enforcement.
The protections against self-incrimination provided by the Fifth Amendment prohibit law enforcement from compelling people to talk during criminal investigations. In addition, the clause provides that no person in a criminal case shall be compelled to be a witness against themselves.
This means that people cannot be forced to provide evidence that may incriminate themselves. Miranda warnings must be given to suspects whenever they are interrogated while under arrest.
Miranda warnings may be given at any time during an interrogation. However, suppose the suspect indicates they desire to stay silent or speak with a representative of their choice, usually a lawyer. In that case, law enforcement is no longer allowed to question the person regarding the crime they were arrested for.
On the other hand, if the person indicates that they wish to waive their right to remain silent, law enforcement may continue questioning them until and unless the person clearly states they want an attorney.
When Are My Miranda Rights Required?
Miranda warnings are required once the individual is in custody and under interrogation by law enforcement.
- Custody: A person is in custody once the individual is deprived of their freedom of action in any consequential way and cannot leave of their free will. This can happen in jail, at the crime scene, in a public place, etc. Once in custody, police must give the individual Miranda warnings before questioning. Being pulled over for a brief questioning by police during a stop would not be deemed being in custody, and police are not required to give Miranda warnings.
- Interrogations: Interrogations are any police questioning that the police know or should know would require an incriminating response. Any interrogations of police of a person in custody require Miranda warnings, or any statements made would be inadmissible unless voluntary waiver.
- Waiver: A person can waive his Miranda Rights and their right to have an attorney present during custodial interrogations. The waiver must be made willfully and voluntarily without any police coercion or influence.
Can I Be Arrested Without Being Read My Miranda Rights?
Yes. Miranda rights only protect against incriminating oneself during custodial interrogation. All the police need to arrest someone is probable cause. The police are only required to read the Miranda rights when interrogating a suspect in police custody. The police know when Miranda rights need to be read and often will question a person without putting that individual under arrest.
Will My Case Be Dismissed if the Police Do Not Read Me My Miranda Rights?
No. The police must only advise a suspect of his Miranda rights before beginning a custodial interrogation:
- Routine Questioning: To establish identity such as name, address, and social security number, routine questions will not need a Miranda warning. Comments made before arrest and voluntary statements made after being arrested do not violate the Miranda rights as long as the police do not intentionally extract those statements.
- Traffic Stops: Miranda warnings are not needed during a traffic stop, and a person cannot invoke their right to remain silent. Answers to police questions are needed when drivers are stopped for traffic violations because of road safety. Refusing information would cause the driver to receive a more severe offense.
What Happens If I Invoke My Miranda Rights?
Police interrogation is to cease immediately upon exercising the right to remain silent or request an attorney. The police may not return to question a person if they request an attorney. Nevertheless, the police use many methods to get suspects to change their minds about staying silent.
How Do I Use My Right to Remain Silent?
An individual’s legal right to stay silent could potentially shield them from making a blunder that may cost them everything, such as their reputation and freedom. When an individual is in custody and is being interrogated, law enforcement will typically ask questions regarding other criminal activities that the individual may be suspected of.
In addition, law enforcement will try to obtain information regarding other people who may have been involved in the same crime or crimes. When a suspect who is in custody invokes their Miranda rights and requests an attorney, as noted above, law enforcement must stop the interrogation until the attorney arrives unless the suspect initiates on their own communication or conversations with law enforcement.
An individual is entitled to request an attorney, even if a law enforcement officer says they do not need one. It is essential to mention that an individual must be direct when requesting a lawyer.
For instance, stating, “I think I may need to talk with an attorney” would not be a sufficient request to stop an interrogation. Rather, if an individual is being interrogated and wants an attorney, they should affirmatively say, “I want an attorney.”
If they wish to stay silent, the same principle applies. The person should state, “I am exercising my right to remain silent.” It is essential to be consistent when making these statements and not add any other comments that may sound suspicious or incriminating.
There are no precise words that trigger the right. The standard provides that invocation is sufficient so long as a reasonable law enforcement officer, under the circumstances, would understand that the state is a request for an attorney.
An individual may involve the right to remain silent during:
- Police interviews;
- Interrogations; and
Do the Police Have to Inform Me of My Rights?
Law enforcement is only obligated to deliver the Miranda warning when an individual is arrested and is being questioned. This means that law enforcement is not required to notify people of their rights if they are stopped on the street or asked questions during a routine investigation.
It is essential to mention that, even if an individual is not under arrest, they should not disclose potentially incriminating information. Individuals can always stay silent until they consult with an attorney because anything they say can be used against them in court.
Can My Silence Be Construed as Guilt?
Suppose an individual’s case goes to trial. In that case, the jury will be equipped with specific instructions against construing the invocation of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as an admission of guilt. However, it is not uncommon for members of a jury to assume an individual is guilty of a crime because they decided to invoke that right, although they are specifically directed not to consider that issue during their deliberations.
According to the Supreme Court, the prosecution is permitted to comment on the silence of a suspect who:
- Is not in police custody and has not been Mirandized;
- Voluntarily submits to police questioning; and
- Stays silent without expressly invoking their Fifth Amendment rights.
The only way to prevent evidence of silence from being admitted at trial is to assert the right to remain silent. This can be done by using the statements and strategies discussed above.
Do You Need a Lawyer Experienced With Miranda Rights?
If the police have questioned you, you should immediately speak with a criminal defense lawyer to learn more about your rights, defenses, and the complicated legal system. An experienced lawyer can help identify what statements should be excluded from the court and determine whether you can sue the police.