Police Must Read You Your Rights
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Police must read you your rights.

Don’t Believe That!

Most of us have, thankfully, not been arrested, but nearly everyone has heard this familiar speech from cop shows on TV: “You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can be used against you in a court of law…”

A typical plot of these shows is that the bad guy is guilty but gets released anyway because the officer forgot to read him his rights. In the great majority of arrests, however, the police have no such legal obligation.

The “Miranda Rights” or “Miranda Warning” come from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda vs. Arizona. The Supreme Court ruled that, under certain circumstances, an individual under arrest must be reminded of 1) his right to remain silent and 2) his right to an attorney.

The specific circumstances stipulated by the Supreme Court are a “custodial interrogation.” Basically, it means that you are under police custody and the police are questioning you in order to elicit an “incriminating response” (confession to a crime). So, if the police fail to read these rights before such an interrogation, will the case be “thrown out”? Probably not, but any confession obtained from the defendant in such circumstances will probably be suppressed and not heard by the jury. If that confession is the centerpiece of the prosecution’s evidence, then it could very well lead to the case being dismissed, or the defendant being found not guilty.

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