How does the Miranda warning work?
Many Chattanooga residents have heard of the Miranda warning and have some idea what it is about. However, some confusion can still abound and understanding this very important law can make a big difference to anyone who is questioned by police for any reason. Citizens facing DUI, theft, drug, murder or more charges can all benefit from-or be hurt by-the Miranda warning if it is not fully understood.
The basics of the Miranda warning
The Miranda warning is similar to the Fifth Amendment in that it is focused on preventing opportunities for self-incrimination. It requires law enforcement to take specific steps in very specific ways as a means of preserving the individual rights of anyone faced with a criminal defense situation.
Some of the specific guidelines of the Miranda warning include:
- The only information that suspects must give to police is biographical data such as a name, address or other contact information.
- No suspect can be questioned apart from asking for biographical information until his or her Miranda rights have been read by the questioning officer.
- Law enforcement officials can make an arrest of a person without any prior questioning but no questions can be asked without the warning having been read.
- Officers must respect the wishes of any person who declines to answer a question or offer any information at any time.
Additionally, under the Miranda warning, a person being questioned can change their mind and cease questioning that they originally consented to. Similarly, they can agree to answer questions after previously refusing to.
Is the Miranda warning always heeded?
According to the law, the Miranda warning is always to be followed. An article in the Huffington Post, however, reported on a situation with a bomber in Boston who was questioned without any reading of the Miranda warning. The man was in the hospital, had his jaw wired and was under the effect of pain medication. A judge is considering whether or not his testimony from that time is admissible or not.
Is silence a good option?
A 2013 decision handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court indicates that silence is not always golden. Suspects must overtly state their choice to abstain from questioning. If they do not do this, anything that they say or do-including facial expressions or body language-can be used against them.
Professional intervention matters
Criminal charges can be serious and people facing them may often feel unsure of what to do or where to turn. Contacting a private defense attorney is always recommended. The experience of a professional can make a difference in a successful defense.