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The full truth about the Miranda warning

Most people in Maryland have heard of the Miranda warning or the Miranda rights. It is a warning that is comprised of a set of guidelines governing police questioning of suspects before, during or after a criminal arrest. However, the Miranda warning does not simply automatically take effect and understanding this fact and how to make the law work on behalf of someone facing criminal charges is highly important to avoid negative consequences.

How must the Miranda warning be used?

The line frequently heard in movies or television shows referencing a person’s right to remain silent can give the impression that simply not saying anything is all that is needed in order to benefit from the Miranda warning. However, this is not at all true.

A decision from the United States Supreme Court that was issued in 2013 made it clear that unless suspects directly tell offices of their desire not to participate in questioning at a given time, any word, sound or even gesture made by them can be used in court or at other times during their criminal defense process. This includes facial expressions, foot shuffling or other body language.

Other facets of the Miranda warning

Both law enforcement officials and citizens should be clear about other elements of the Miranda warning as well as the need for suspects to be clear about their choices of whether or not to answer questions.

The law also outlines the following:

  • Suspects must always be willing to give authorities basic identifying information. This includes names, phone numbers and addresses.

  • Suspects can originally agree to answer questions and then later on choose to cease answering them. As long as requests to stop questioning were directly made, officers must abide by the suspects’ wishes.

  • The Miranda warning cannot prevent against arrests. Officers are still able to arrest and take suspects into custody whether or not the Miranda rights have been read or any questions answered.

  • No questions can be asked by law enforcement officials unless the full text of the law has first been read to suspects.

The Miranda warning can be used by people suspected or accused of any type of crime. This includes drunk driving, sex crimes, burglary, white collar crimes and more.

The Miranda warning in action today

The Miranda warning is commonly leveraged in criminal cases. A murder case unfolding in Michigan this summer looked to the Miranda warning to determine the admissibility of some evidence. In this case, the defense’s attempt to block the evidence from use was ineffective. This is because the defendant was read her full Miranda rights before being questioned, making the information legally able to be used in the trial.

Knowledge is power

For people facing criminal charges, understanding the laws and procedures in place can provide important help. Working with an experienced attorney is one way to ensure this level of assistance.

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