If you are under arrest, a law officer must read you the Miranda warning before interrogating you. Contrary to popular belief, this does not have to occur while the arrest is happening, such as what happens in movies and television shows.
Not everyone understands exactly what rights they have under the Miranda warning, and it is important you know so that you do not accidentally incriminate yourself.
What the Miranda warning consists of
According to FindLaw, the Miranda warning consists of the:
- Right to remain silent
- Right to an attorney
- Right to have an attorney, regardless of ability to pay
- Right to stop questioning at any time
Understanding the right to remain silent
Before any type of questions, whether in the police car or at the station, law enforcement must read the warning to the suspect. Without it, the prosecution cannot use any of the evidence gained during the interrogation.
According to the Constitution Annotated, law enforcement officers must respect a suspect’s invocation of the rights. The clearest way to invoke the right to remain silent is to state out loud that you desire to remain silent. Just staying silent may cause confusion and indicate a waiver of your rights.
Once you invoke your rights, all questioning must stop. If you request an attorney, no law enforcement officer can question you without your lawyer present.
You also have the right to waive your rights. If you state that you waive them, questioning will continue, and prosecutors can use anything you say during interrogation in the trial. However, even if you waived your rights initially, you can invoke them at any time.