You have probably heard this many times on TV crime dramas: “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law…” Yes, these are the words spoken by a police officer to a suspect who has been placed under arrest, otherwise known as the Miranda warning.
Where Did the Miranda Warning Come From?
Miranda rights are a set of guidelines secured for citizens by the Supreme Court of the United States in Miranda v. Arizona (1966). They are named after Ernesto Arturo Miranda, an Arizona man arrested and tried for several serious crimes. In the Miranda case, the Supreme Court determined that the defendant’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights were violated; they declared it necessary for arresting officers to read suspects their rights. Although the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice Earl Warren, did not require a specific set of words be spoken, convention holds the rights to be communicated as:
“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 an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
Returning to our TV crime drama example, on these shows, isn’t it common for the suspect who has just been read his Miranda rights to be transported to police headquarters where he subsequently engages in a lengthy conversation with police detectives? But is this a smart thing to do? Doesn’t the Miranda warning signify that everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law? Would it not, therefore, make sense to say nothing?
The short answer is a resounding “yes!” Police officers are trained to appeal to people’s better natures, to get suspects to open up. Using thoughtful combinations of caring and fear tactics, police may use psychological manipulation to coax suspects into self-incrimination. Many times, people will be tempted to talk to police in order to clear up perceived confusion or explain rationally why they are innocent. What the average citizen does not realize, however, is that often when speaking to police, the suspect and the police are effectively having two separate conversations. While the suspect thinks that she is explaining why she was innocent of crime X, the police are equally interested in getting the person to unknowingly admit to crime Y or Z.
While it may seem confusing, the only words that a wise suspect utters to the police are the indication that he wishes to invoke his rights under Miranda and remain silent. The Supreme Court, in Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010) (docket 08-1470)—a controversial ruling—held that a verbal assertion of Miranda is required by the detainee. The dissenting opinion held that it is paradoxical (and strange) to require a person to give up the right to remain silent in order to exercise the right to remain silent.
Arrested? Call a St. Petersburg Criminal Defense Lawyer Immediately
If you have been accused of a crime, it is imperative that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately. An attorney familiar with the legal system and interrogation tactics can ensure that your legal rights are protected and your case is resolved as favorably as possible. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call the Khonsari Law Group today at 727-269-5300 or send us an email through our online contact form.