Many people in Alabama know that if they are arrested, they will hear the police officer read out a list of rights, beginning with the famous phrase, “You have the right to remain silent.” However common these words may seem to be, they are more than just rote phrases. They reflect significant rights that people have when under suspicion of a crime, and understanding those rights can be important to protecting them from violations. These rights, known as the Miranda warnings, take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that mandated suspects must be advised of key rights when they are taken into police custody.
The Miranda rights are a way of protecting people’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. When people are arrested, they are told that they can remain silent, that the words they do say can be used against them in court, that they have the right to a lawyer and that one can be appointed if they cannot afford one. In essence, people are being told that they are not required to talk to the police and can speak to legal counsel instead, despite tactics that police may use in interrogation in an attempt to get a confession.
If people do not receive these Miranda warnings when they are arrested and later make a confession, their admissions may be excluded from court as coerced and involuntary. In addition, other evidence obtained by police as a result of the original unlawful confession may be thrown out by the judge in a criminal trial.
While people may know about their Miranda rights, they may not realize how important these rights can be in case of an arrest. A criminal defense attorney may help people to recognize instances of police misconduct, challenge them and aim to prevent a felony conviction.