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Your Miranda Rights Explained

In the movie 21 Jump Street, a rookie police officer has difficulty reciting the Miranda Rights, explaining that the movies always cut away before the actor finished reciting them.  In reality, the police know Miranda Rights, or the Miranda Warning, very well. These are the Miranda Rights:

“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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”

The wording can vary as long as the rights are clearly stated and understood.  This means that if you do not speak English, the officer needs to provide a translation that you can understand.

Police Must Read You Your Rights ONLY if You Are in Custody

The police are required to give the Miranda warning to a person that they have in custody and who is considered a suspect. However, if you are just being questioned by the police and are in not in custody, the police do not have to inform you of these rights.  It is important to know that if you become a suspect later on, your statements can be used against you.

You Have the Right to Consult with an Attorney Before Answering Any Questions

This is what your Miranda Rights mean in practice: you do not have to answer any questions without an attorney present. This is true whether you are an official suspect or not. If you are being questioned by the police, all you have to say is –“I appreciate the job you are doing, but I wish to consult with my attorney prior to giving any statements.”  Remain polite, but insist upon your rights.  The police will respect your decision and your 5th Amendment right not to incriminate yourself will be protected.

As a criminal defense attorney, I HIGHLY recommend that you do not give any statements without talking to an attorney first.  Even if you feel that you are completely innocent of all possible charges, it is in your best interest to avoid giving statements that could unintentionally implicate you.  It is not uncommon for people who are being questioned by the police to be scared and emotionally overwhelmed or could possibly be intoxicated or impaired in some way. This is not the time to give any official statements.

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