What are Miranda Rights?

Updated on 12/02/2021 / Under

Most people in the US, no matter their cultural background or political beliefs, agree that freedom is a critical American value. While our country hasn't always offered freedom to all, getting to that point must be our goal. But how can the US make sure that our practices align with our values? How can we make sure that all Americans are truly free?

One way to promote liberty in the United States is to make sure that our Constitution is enforced in every state, including Illinois. This means making sure that anyone accused of a crime understands their constitutional rights, such as their Miranda Rights, and that law enforcement officers respect them.

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

The Miranda rights originated in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Miranda v. Arizona, which set forth the following rights:

  • Everyone has the right to remain silent;
  • Anything you say in a police interrogation can be used against you in a court of law;
  • You have the right to speak with a criminal defense attorney and have that attorney present during the interrogation;
  • If you can't afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you;
  • You can exercise your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and if you invoke your rights, the interrogation must stop.
  • You can invoke your right to have an experienced attorney present at the interrogation, and until your lawyer is present, the interrogation must stop.

This means you can choose not to answer a police officer’s questions and may request a lawyer.

While movies and TV shows often show police officers giving the Miranda "warning" when arresting someone, this isn't always the case. A law enforcement officer or other officials must, by law, read you the full Miranda warning before custodial police interrogation starts. This type of interrogation by police happens when you're in police custody after you've been arrested and are being questioned. Also, this type of interrogation is called “adversarial interrogation.”

What are Miranda Rights?

However, law enforcement officers don't always need to warn you about your Miranda rights during the arrest or while you're waiting in jail. Simply being arrested or detained by law enforcement officers doesn't always mean you will hear the Miranda warning. You will hear the Miranda warning before the interrogation starts. If you don’t, police officers may have to throw out anything you said in the interrogation.

In any case, it's wise to remain silent to avoid giving incriminating statements. However, you might need to answer basic questions and provide identification.

What if the Law Enforcement Officials Don't Advise Me of My Miranda Rights?

When law enforcement officers question criminal defendants in custody without first reading the Miranda warning, any confession or voluntary statement made is presumed to be involuntary, and can't be used against the defendant in any criminal case. Any substantial evidence discovered as a result of that voluntary statement or confession may also be thrown out of the case.

For example, suppose Jane is arrested and, without being read her Miranda rights, is questioned by law enforcement officers about a bank robbery. Unaware that she has the right to stay silent, Jane confesses to committing the robbery and tells the officers that the money is buried in her backyard. Acting on this evidence, the police officers dig up the money.

When Jane's criminal defense attorney challenges the confession in a court of law, the judge will most probably find it illegal. This means that not only will the statement be thrown out of the case against Jane, but so will the money itself because it was discovered because of the unlawful confession.

Learn More: What to Expect After a DUI Arrest

What Two Criteria Must be Met for the Miranda Warning to be Necessary?

There are two very basic requirements before the police officers are required to issue a Miranda warning to a criminal defendant:

  • The person must be in police custody; and
  • The suspect must be under interrogation.

It's essential to understand these requirements of custodial interrogation because if the suspect isn't formally in police custody and they aren't being interrogated, the police officers don't have to read them their Miranda rights. Thus, the police can use anything you say until those two prerequisites are fulfilled as evidence against you.

How Do Miranda Rights Apply to Statements that a Criminal Defendant Makes?

Often, whether law enforcement officers gave Miranda warnings, suspects in custody will make a statement implicating themselves in a crime. Because of the intricacies of the law surrounding Miranda warnings, these statements may not be admissible at a criminal trial. Whether a statement is admissible at court trial hinges on small variations in details. Again, law enforcement officers and other investigators are only required to give Miranda warnings when a criminal suspect is in custody and being directly interrogated by the police officer.

For a criminal suspect to be "in custody" for the purposes of Miranda warning, the person must be arrested or it must be objectively clear that they weren't free to leave. For example, a criminal suspect who is asked to come to police headquarters for interrogation and is told that they can't leave until they answer certain questions is "in custody" for purposes of Miranda. If that same person is left waiting in the lobby, and then made an incriminating statement as the police officer approached for a meeting, those oral statements would probably be admissible because the person was apparently free to leave when they made the statement.

What are Your Miranda Rights?

A criminal suspect must also be under explicit questioning for Miranda to apply. If a suspect yells to a passing law enforcement officer that they shoplifted from a grocery store, Miranda wouldn't apply because the law enforcement officer hadn't questioned them about any crime. Likewise, if a person sitting in the backseat of a police vehicle overhears two police officers discussing the crime in the front seat and makes an incriminating statement in response to their discussion, that statement wouldn't be protected because the person hadn't been directly questioned by either of the law enforcement officers.

Finally, a police suspect can waive, or choose not to take advantage of, the Miranda rights offer. To waive Miranda rights, a person must be advised of their Miranda warnings, and then agree to speak to the police officers. The suspect's waiver, however, must be voluntary, knowing, and intelligent. For instance, if a suspect is advised of their Miranda rights, they may choose to bar interrogation until their lawyer is present. But while waiting for an attorney, if they approach the law enforcement officers and confess to the crime, they have probably waived their right to protection under Miranda rights.

Unfortunately, people’s legal rights are violated often, especially regarding criminal matters. If you were taken into police custody and police officers didn't read you your Miranda Rights, or you need any other kind of legal counsel, our criminal defense law firm is ready to help you fight for your freedom.

An award-winning criminal defense lawyer, Alex Ktenas has a proven track record of representing criminal suspects accused of traffic violations, robbery charges, manslaughter, murder, and other serious crimes. He’s helped thousands of people overturn criminal convictions, prove self-defense, and win trials. Serving Cook County, Lake County, Kane County, DuPage County, Kendall County, Will County, and throughout Illinois, contact our skilled criminal defense attorney today at (630) 425-0250.