Miranda Warnings

August 29, 2013 in 4th Amendment Rights, Citizen's Rights, Legal Information, Miranda Rights, Miranda Warnings, Privacy Rights

Everyone is at least somewhat familiar with the Miranda Warnings, i.e. “you have the right to remain silent, any statement you make may be used as evidence against you, you the right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or assigned.” But what exactly does this mean and when do your Miranda Rights kick into effect?

Essentially, the Miranda Warnings are very strict rules to ensure the right to counsel during the interrogation phase of a criminal investigation. (1).

Any confession stemming from an officers custodial interrogation of a defendant will NOT be admissible into evidence unless the use of procedural safeguards (Miranda Warnings) have been demonstrated to secure the defendant their constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. Custodial interrogation refers to questioning initiated by an officer after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of their freedom. (1).

While it is possible for defendant to waive these rights, the waiver must be made voluntarily, knowingly, and intelligently. In most cases, a valid waiver can not be presumed from silence, however if the defendant indicates in any manner and at any stage of the process that he wishes to consult with an attorney before speaking, there can be no more questioning. (2). In the Finke case – once the defendant responded with “no comment” the officers subsequent questioning were not admissible.)

In conclusion, unless fully effective means are devised to inform the accused person of his right to silence and to ensure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, any incriminating statements an accused might say will NOT be admitted into evidence and used against them.

(1) Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)
(2) People v. Finke, 204 Ill. App. 3d 748 (1990)