Miranda Rights and the Constitution

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Chances are, you know about the Miranda Rights. We’ve all heard an actor portraying a police officer, if not an actual police officer, telling a suspect about their right to remain silent and to speak with a lawyer. This requirement is actually much younger than the Constitution and Bill of Rights. In fact, the Miranda warning originated in Arizona in 1966.

Your Fifth Amendment Rights

The fifth amendment protects you from self-incrimination. For example, you can’t be called to testify against yourself in court. If taken into custody, you do not need to answer police questions, even if you feel pressured or in any way coerced. They need to inform you of your right to remain silent. Just as importantly, you need to invoke your right to remain silent, not only with the police but with anyone who could be called as a witness. Your lawyer can advise you further about your right to remain silent, which brings us to the next part of the Miranda Warning.

Your Sixth Amendment Rights

After reminding you of your right to remain silent, police must inform you of your right to counsel, protected by the Sixth Amendment. You may choose to hire an attorney, or be assigned a public defender. There are exceptions to your right to counsel. It only applies if charges are brought against you that carry the possibility of jail time. You may hire an attorney for cases that fall outside of these standards, but the court is not required to appoint one.

Miranda v. Arizona

So, why are they called Miranda rights? If you picture Miranda as some ancient goddess of justice, akin to the lady who holds the scales, well… Ernesto Miranda is the actual namesake. Though his attorneys defended his rights all the way to the Supreme Court, resulting in the implementation of Miranda Rights, he was still found guilty and convicted based on the admissible evidence.

Miranda Rights have a storied, local history. More importantly, they are supposed to protect you from self-incrimination. Whenever you are taken into police custody, it is best to invoke your Miranda Rights and contact your attorney for advice.

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