Why Are the Miranda Rights Important?
The Miranda rights, also known as the Miranda warning, are read to people upon arrest. Police and other law enforcement personnel are required to read or recite this warning to suspected criminals to ensure that their rights under the United States Constitution are being protected. These rights include the Fifth Amendment right not to be forced to act as a witness against yourself and the Sixth Amendment right to legal counsel.
History of Miranda Rights
Ernesto Miranda was convicted of kidnapping and rape after being interrogated without an attorney, but in 1963, his appeal went before the U.S. Supreme Court. During this landmark case, the court overturned Miranda’s conviction because he was neither aware of nor advised of his constitutional rights. Ever since this ruling, law enforcement agencies have been compelled to read the Miranda warning to anyone who is to be interrogated.
The Miranda warning
Although the Supreme Court did not specifically detail how a Miranda warning should be worded, most law enforcement agencies have adopted a standardized form of the warning:
“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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
The warning is not considered legally issued until the person being read the warning clearly affirms that he or she understands the Miranda rights.
Exercising your Miranda rights
The Miranda rights are read only to people being arrested, but those who are being interrogated by law enforcement must also be reminded of their rights. If you are not arrested, you are not legally required to answer police questions, except for your name, age and address. If the detainee or arrested individual states that he or she wishes to remain silent, the individual must expressly state that he or she chooses to remain silent. In addition, if the individual asserts that he or she wishes to speak to an attorney or have an attorney present, then the police must cease interrogation and wait until an attorney arrives.