If you've ever seen a criminal arrest depicted on film or television, you likely know at least part of the Miranda rights (or "Miranda warning"). However, far fewer of us understand what key purpose the recital of these rights serve and how they can affect a criminal charge. Below, let's take a long at why this warning is used and how its absence can truly affect a criminal allegation.
The Purpose of the Miranda Warning
Everyone knows the "right to remain silent" segment, but the full Miranda warning relays a few other key pieces of information to a citizen who is being arrested. The full Miranda rights are as follows:
- 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 have legal counsel present with you during questioning.
- If you cannot afford legal counsel, the state will provide you a lawyer.
- You can decide to exercise these rights at any time.
The purpose of the Miranda rights is to avoid self-incrimination. Not all citizens are aware of their rights when they are arrested and many of them may make statements or take actions that implicate them. By informing citizens of these rights, they know that they do not have to answer questions and that legal counsel is allowed and forthcoming. It also prevents less-than-honest law enforcement officers from manipulating or intimidating a suspect in order to ensure a future conviction.
The Miranda Myth
One persistent myth about the Miranda rights is that if police officers fail or forget to recite them at the time of arrest, the criminal charges against the accused are voided and dropped. This occurrence, however, is rare and a misunderstanding of real ramifications of failing to "Mirandize" a suspect.
Let's say "Joe" was arrested for simple assault after a bar fight. Without being Mirandized, he's taken back to the station, questioned, and admits to fighting with another man. However, once Joe's attorney arrives and realized that he confessed without being Mirandized, he has the police questioning suppressed. The judge allows it because Joe was not made aware of his rights before questioning. Now, instead of submitting Joe's confession, the state has to rely on other evidence to secure a conviction. So yes, while the lack of a Miranda warning can favor a defendant, it does not automatically void the charges against them.
Are you facing a serious criminal charge? If so, we invite you to contact us at the Law Offices of Richard Tendler. Our West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney has more than 15 years of legal experience and knows that it takes to protect our clients' interests both in and outside the courtroom.
Want to learn more about how our firm can advocate for you during this difficult time? Call us today.