What are your Miranda Rights and why are they important?

What are your Miranda Rights and why are they important?

You’ve probably heard this phrase in countless movies and TV shows: “You have the right to remain silent.” That’s the first line of your Miranda Rights — and thanks to a Supreme Court ruling, you have more than just the right to remain silent. Read more about Miranda Rights and why they are important.


Miranda Rights definition 


If a police officer arrests you and intends to interrogate you, they must recite to 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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?


These are your Miranda Rights, which notify you of your right to protection against self-incrimination and your right to an attorney if you are questioned by police. The concept is rooted in the Fifth Amendment, which protects individuals against self-incrimination.

There are variations on Miranda Rights. In some states, police must also state that you can invoke your right to be silent before or during an interrogation, and you can invoke your right to have an attorney present, and until your attorney is present, the interrogation must stop.

A common addition in some jurisdictions, as mentioned above, is police asking whether or not you understand your rights as they have been read to you. A suspect must affirm they understand their rights before police questioning can begin, as courts will not interpret silence as understanding of the Miranda warning. The Supreme Court also established this in a 2010 case, saying the burden is on a suspect to invoke their Miranda Rights.

Two requirements must be met in order for police to read your Miranda Rights. You must be in custody and must be under interrogation.

History: Miranda v. Arizona

Although the concept is rooted in the Fifth Amendment, Miranda Rights were not established until the 1960s in a landmark Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona.

Defendant Ernesto Miranda was accused of kidnapping, raping and robbing a woman in 1963 and confessed to the crimes during police interrogation, during which no lawyer was present to represent Miranda. Lawyers later said that he had not been clearly informed by police about his right to retain a lawyer and right against self-incrimination.

Miranda had in fact written out a confession and said he was fully aware of his legal rights, but his lawyers argued that his rights had not been made explicitly clear to him. They argued that he was under duress during interrogation, and his confession should not be admissible in court. The case advanced to the Supreme Court where in 1966, they reversed the state of Arizona’s decision and declared Miranda’s confession could not be used in a criminal trial. Chief Justice Earl Warren’s opinion outlined police procedure to ensure defendants are clearly informed of their rights if they are interrogated by police.


Thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling, a Miranda warning serves as an important reminder of your rights under the U.S. Constitution.

When police question someone in custody without first Mirandizing them, anything the person says is presumed to be involuntary and cannot be used against them in any criminal case. Any evidence discovered as a result of what the person says involuntarily will likely be thrown out of the case and not presented in court. This can wildly alter the outcome of a criminal case.