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Know Your Rights: “Miranda” Rights And The Fifth Amendment

What are the “Miranda” Rights?

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the historic case of Miranda v. Arizona, declaring that whenever a person is taken into police custody, before being questioned he or she must be told of the Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements. As a result of Miranda, anyone in police custody must be told four things before being questioned:

  • 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.

Read the historic U.S. Supreme Court decision: Miranda v. Arizona.

What If The Police Fail To Advise Me Of My Miranda Rights?

When police officers question a suspect in custody without first giving the Miranda warning, any statement or confession made is presumed to be involuntary, and cannot be used against the suspect in any criminal case. Any evidence discovered as a result of that statement or confession will likely also be thrown out of the case.

For example, suppose Jesse is arrested and, without being read his Miranda rights, is questioned by police officers about a armed robbery. Unaware that he has the right to remain silent, Jesse confesses to the armed robbery and tells the police that the money and gun are buried in his backyard. Acting on this information, the police dig up the money and gun. When Jessie’s attorney challenges the confession in court, the judge will likely find it unlawful. This means that, not only will the confession be thrown out of the case against Jesse, but so will the money and gun, because they were discovered solely as a result of the unlawful confession.

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