You may have seen articles in the media earlier this year suggesting that the Supreme Court took a sword to people’s Miranda Rights.
Is this true? Not quite, but it is still bad news for anyone arrested.
What are your Miranda Rights?
The Fifth Amendment gives anyone arrested certain rights, called Miranda rights. The arresting officer should tell you the following:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
What if they do not inform you of these?
In that case, you can ask a court to suppress any evidence the police obtain from this point forward. It is designed to stop people unwittingly telling the police things that incriminate themselves.
If you do not get past the headlines, you might think that the recent Supreme Court ruling means that you no longer have this protection. It doesn’t. If you read deeper, you will see that what they took away is your right to file a civil lawsuit against an officer who did not read you your rights.
Why would you want to do this?
If you are convicted, you may feel it is down to something you said because you did not know you had the right to keep quiet. If the officer had done their job and read you your rights, you might believe you would have walked free. While you can still try to suppress the evidence, not all attempts succeed.
You could argue that before the ruling, officers were more likely to read people their rights because not doing so could land them on the end of a lawsuit. The ruling means they no longer have to fear that.
If the police arrest you, it can be easy to make mistakes. Just remember to tell them you want an attorney and will not be saying anything until they arrive. That is the best way to start defending the charges you face.