The odds are high that you already have some idea of your Miranda Rights. The prevalence of crime dramas on television have made the words, “You have the right to remain silent…” very familiar to most people.
However, you probably don’t really understand when you’re entitled to that warning — and you may be harboring some dangerous misconceptions about your rights. Below is some important information.
When do the police actually need to Mirandize you?
You are only entitled to a Miranda warning when:
- You are in police custody
- You are being interrogated
In other words, if the police roll up on you and accuse you of robbing a local store, they can arrest you — but they don’t necessarily have to Mirandize you. If they don’t intend to interrogate you, it isn’t required. They can wait until they have you back at the station to issue the warning (or even later) — and that won’t mean that your case will later be dismissed because of a procedural problem.
What happens if you talk without being Mirandized?
Say that you are arrested and placed in the back of a cruiser for some reason. Maybe you’re accused of robbing a store or maybe you are suspected of driving while drunk. You’re sure the officers have made a mistake, so you try to explain what really happened in hopes they’ll change their mind before you’re booked.
Well, for the police, that’s perfect: They’re more than happy to listen to everything you say, and they’ll use anything that might be incriminating against you later when they testify in court. They weren’t formally interrogating you, so you didn’t have to be Mirandized — but nothing you say is “off the record.”
What does this mean to you? Essentially, just this: The only thing you should ever say when you’re speaking with the police is that you want to speak with your attorney before you answer. That’s the best way to protect your interests — and to preserve your best avenues of defense.