A crime drama staple is a police officer or detective barking that someone
has the right to remain silent while they are being arrested. If the television
show or movie is particularly good, it will be followed up with something
about what they say and do being used against them in a court of law.
Although this might be just some dialogue tacked onto scripts and screenplays,
it is a direct reflection of some of the most important defensive rights
Americans have under the Constitution.
What is the Miranda Warning?
In 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled that someone must be told
their Fifth Amendment rights whenever they are taken into police custody
or will be subject to questioning. This upfront explanation of your right
to remain silent until you have spoken to an attorney – and your
right to not be forced to provide incriminating evidence against yourself
– is known as the Miranda Warning, named after the historic case
Miranda v. Arizona. If someone is arrested and questioned without the Miranda Warning being
said clearly to them, any evidence the police or investigators may collect
afterward could be deemed null and void, no matter how solid a case it builds.
How to Use Your 5th Amendment Rights
The Miranda Warning is necessary but
only if you are going to be compelled to answer. If a police officer just asks,
“Can you give me some information about this case?” or “What
do you know about this crime?” but does not threaten arrest or penalty
for lack of compliance, the Miranda Warning doesn’t have to be given.
However, your Fifth Amendment rights are still usable.
If you ever want to
not speak to the police for fear of incriminating yourself, you need to invoke
your Fifth Amendment rights clearly. Just zipping up your lips and refusing
to talk is not using your rights, and can even be construed as a subtle
admission of guilt. Make certain you say, “Officer, I am invoking
my Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent until I have an opportunity
to speak with my attorney.” At that point, any questioning should stop.
When you are given an opportunity to call a lawyer, you should dial
414.882.8382 to reach the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella. Our Milwaukee criminal
defense attorney can manage all sorts of defense cases, from
drug crimes to