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Understanding how the Miranda warning works

A judge's gavel and hammer sit on a legal desk with a calculator and a sign that reads know your rights.Originally posted on 11/25/2016

Michigan residents who have seen television police shows or movies involving law enforcement have no doubt watched many dramatic scenes with officers quoting something to the effect of, "You have the right to remain silent..."

This phrase is a part of what is known as the Miranda warning. It is an integral element of a law enacted in 1966 designed to give suspects a way of preventing self-incrimination by letting them decide if and when they wish to participate in police questioning. 

Keep reading this article to learn more about Miranda Warnings and what they mean for an individual's rights.

Miranda Warning Basics

As with any law, there are some basic procedural steps outlined that must be followed in order for the Miranda warning to be utilized. These pertain to both law enforcement officials as well as to suspects facing a potential criminal defense.

Key elements of the Miranda warning include:

  • Police officers must read the full text of the Miranda warning to suspects prior to commencing any line of questioning.
  • Identifying information such as names and addresses must be provided to officers by suspects at all times.
  • Officers can make arrests even if suspects have chosen not to answer questions at that time.
  • Arrests can even happen prior to the Miranda rights being read to suspects.
  • If suspects initially agree to answer questions and later choose to stop answering questions, officers must cease all questioning when indicated.

In order to invoke the Miranda rights, suspects must directly and verbally indicate their choice to not answer police questions. Per a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, suspects that simply choose to remain silent are not protected by the warning and anything they say or do can be admissible in court. This is a critical nuance to the Miranda warning law that many people may not be aware of.

A Real-Life Example in Michigan

The Miranda warning is not simply something noted in television shows or movies. A recent article in the Morning Sun News reported on a murder case in which the defense attorney attempted to block some evidence from being used in the trial. The judge, however, ruled that all evidence could be utilized by the prosecution because the defendant, a 34-year old woman facing a second-degree murder charge, was read the Miranda warning by officers before any questions were asked.

What Defendants Should Do

Anyone facing a potential criminal situation should understand that the Miranda warning can be utilized. This is so for misdemeanors such as drunk driving as well as felonies. When crimes escalate in severity, the consequences for them also raise. 

Work with a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney

Contacting a defense attorney as soon as possible is another way to get help in the face of serious charges and consequences. The experts at Aldrich Legal Services have been in the business for more than 21 years. Give our team a call today to set your appointment.

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