The words have been repeated on TV crime shows for so long that almost everyone has heard it before. “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. This phrase is a portion of something called the Miranda rights. They are an integral part of Denver criminal defense and the legal system in the United States, and it’s important to understand their significance.
What are the Miranda rights?
The Miranda rights are a set of rights designed to uphold the constitutional rights guaranteed by the Fifth and Sixth Amendments—the right to avoid self-incrimination and the right to an attorney, respectively. They were created over fifty years ago in response to a 1966 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Miranda v. Arizona, and now the police must inform suspects of these rights as part of something called the Miranda warning. While the law does not mandate the exact language of a Miranda warning, the substance is constant and usually includes some variation on the following:
(1) You have the right to remain silent.
(2) Anything you do say can and maybe be used against you in court.
(3) You have the right to have an attorney present before and during questioning.
(4) If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you at no cost.
(5) You can, at any time, stop answering questions until an attorney is present.
When must the Miranda warning be given?
The Miranda warning must be read by law enforcement when a suspect is in custody and before interrogation begins. Custody is defined as either a formal arrest or when a reasonable person believes they have had their freedom deprived to an extent similar to that of an arrest. Interrogation is defined as when a member of law enforcement explicitly asks questions or takes any action likely to elicit an incriminating response from a suspect. When these two conditions are met, a suspect must be informed of their Miranda rights.
What happens after the Miranda warning is given?
After the Miranda warning is read, a suspect has two options: waive or assert their rights. If a suspect waives their rights, then law enforcement can proceed with an interrogation. If a suspect asserts their rights, law enforcement must not begin asking questions. At this point, there are a couple important things to note about the Miranda rights. First, any statements made after a Miranda warning are considered a waiver of Miranda rights. Additionally, if a suspect waives their Miranda rights and later decides to asset them, all members of law enforcement must immediately stop all interrogation.
When have the Miranda rights been violated?
A violation of a suspect’s Miranda rights by law enforcement can occur in two ways. First, a suspect’s Miranda rights have been violated if they have been placed in custody and interrogated without being read a Miranda warning. Alternatively, their Miranda rights are violated if a suspect asserts their Miranda rights at any point in time, and the police do not immediately stop the interrogation.
What can be done when the police violate the Miranda rights?
Thankfully, there is a way to fight back if someone’s Miranda rights have been violated: a motion to suppress. This motion is filed by a criminal defense attorney and, in essence, retroactively asserts the Miranda rights. If the motion is successful, any statement given by a suspect while law enforcement was in violation their Miranda rights will be inadmissible during trial and cannot be used to prove the guilt of the defendant.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Contact him today at 720.819.7317.