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What role do the Miranda rights play in criminal justice?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Miranda rights, fundamental protections under U.S. law, are designed to safeguard an individual’s Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination during a police interrogation. Generally speaking, when a person is taken into custody, law enforcement officers must recite the Miranda warning, informing the individual of their rights.

These rights include remaining silent, consulting with an attorney and having an attorney present during questioning. Understanding these rights is critical for anyone who’s being interrogated.

How can people invoke their Miranda rights?

Invoking the Miranda rights is a straightforward process. To exercise the right to remain silent, an individual must state that they are invoking this right. It’s essential to be clear when doing so. Statements such as “I choose to remain silent” or “I want an attorney present for questioning” are clear invocations. Vague statements or silence alone won’t effectively invoke the right to silence. All questioning must cease until the attorney is present once the rights are invoked.

What happens if Miranda rights are violated?

If law enforcement fails to recite the Miranda warning before interrogating a suspect in custody, or if they continue to question a suspect after invoking their Miranda rights, it violates these rights. Any statements the suspect makes during an interrogation after the violation may be deemed inadmissible in court.

This means that prosecutors can’t use these statements against the suspect in their case. The invalidation of these statements doesn’t automatically result in the dismissal of the case. Prosecutors can still pursue a conviction using other evidence obtained independently of the Miranda violation.

Excluding evidence due to a Miranda rights violation doesn’t extend to physical evidence that may have been discovered due to statements made during a custodial interrogation. For example, if a suspect provides information that leads to the discovery of incriminating evidence, this physical evidence may still be admissible under certain exceptions to the exclusionary rule.

Understanding and invoking Miranda rights are crucial matters for individuals taken into custody because it allows them to protect their legal interests and better ensure that any statement made is voluntary and informed. Violations of Miranda rights may become a focal point in a criminal defense, so working with a legal representative who understands these matters is critical for those who are being interrogated or who have already been accused of wrongdoing.