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Understanding Your Miranda Rights

The terms Miranda, Miranda Rights and Marandized originate from one of the most important United States Supreme Court cases ever decided, Miranda v. Arizona. Because of the results of Miranda, suspects in custody must be advised of their right against self-incrimination. As well, amongst other things, Miranda also ensures the individual's right to legal counsel during questioning.

Miranda v. Arizona – Basic Facts

On March 18, 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested at his home on rape charges. He was taken to a Phoenix police station and interrogated by police.

  • At no point prior to or during the interrogation was Miranda informed of his Fifth Amendment rights protecting him from self-incriminating statements.
  • He was not told that he had the right to remain silent or that his oral and signed confessions, statements and admissions could be used against him in a court of law.
  • As well, Miranda was not told of his Sixth Amendment right to have an attorney present during the interrogation process.

Within two hours of the police interrogation Miranda admitted that he committed offenses and wrote and signed a confession. On the signed paper there was a typed disclaimer stating that Miranda’s confession was voluntary and that he knowingly relinquished his right to counsel.At the Arizona state court trial, the oral and written confessions were introduced by the prosecution. Miranda was convicted of rape and kidnapping and sentenced to 20 – 30 years per count. He appealed his case to the Supreme Court of Arizona; that court held that his Constitutional rights were not violated.His attorney appealed to the United States Supreme Court. (Miranda actually joined three other cases with similar custodial interrogation issues. Each case addressed the admissibility of evidence obtained without apprising the defendants of their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights).

Inconsistent Custodial Procedure Prior to Miranda

Prior to Miranda each state had its own procedures and policies pertaining to custodial interrogations. While some states did warn suspects of their rights, others did not. There was a lack of procedural uniformity and consistency throughout the states.

Miranda v. Arizona – United States Supreme Court Decision

Mr. Chief Justice Warren delivered the 5-4 opinion. A few of the many significant quotes:“The constitutional issue we decide in each of these cases is the admissibility of statements obtained from a defendant questioned while in custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way. In each, the defendant was questioned by police officers, detectives, or a prosecuting attorney in a room in which he was cut off from the outside world.”“In none of these cases was the defendant given a full and effective warning of his rights at the outset of the interrogation process. In all the cases, the questioning elicited oral admissions, and in three of them, signed statements as well which were admitted at their trials. They all thus share salient features -- incommunicado interrogation of individuals in a police-dominated atmosphere, resulting in self-incriminating statements without full warnings of constitutional rights.”

Other Notable Miranda Quotes

  • “At the outset, if a person in custody is to be subjected to interrogation, he must first be informed in clear and unequivocal terms that he has the right to remain silent.”
  • “The warning of the right to remain silent must be accompanied by the explanation that anything said can and will be used against the individual in court.”
  • “…the right to have counsel present at the interrogation is indispensable to the protection of the Fifth Amendment privilege ….”
  • “Thus, the need for counsel to protect the Fifth Amendment privilege comprehends not merely a right to consult with counsel prior to questioning, but also to have counsel present during any questioning if the defendant so desires.”
  • “Accordingly, we hold that an individual held for interrogation must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation under the system for protecting the privilege we delineate today.
  • “As with the warnings of the right to remain silent and that anything stated can be used in evidence against him, this warning is an absolute prerequisite to interrogation.”

Understanding Miranda

The Court held that those in police custody must be informed of certain rights – now simply called Miranda Rights:

  1. You have a right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

What does this mean?

  • Before the interrogation begins, the individual must be informed of their Fifth Amendment right against self-incriminating statements;
  • The individual must be told of the right to remain silent;
  • The individual has a right to a private or court appointed attorney during questioning;
  • If the individual requests an attorney at any point during questioning, the questioning must stop until an attorney is present;
  • If the individual waives their right to an attorney and later changes their mind and requests one, they have the right to stop answering questions until the attorney is present;
  • The individual must be permitted to confer with the attorney during present and future questioning;
  • If the suspect is not informed of their Miranda rights, any statements or confessions will be presumed to be involuntary – and generally inadmissible.
  • (Note that this is a broad and generalized review for educational purposes only; every case is unique and should be discussed with your attorney).

Why Miranda is Important to You

If you were arrested, detained and questioned, your Miranda rights must be given to you before the interrogation. If you were not given your Miranda rights, it is essential that you inform your attorney of this. Statements and confessions that were not legally obtained cannot be admitted against you as evidence.

West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Miranda Rights Attorney David W. Olson

As was said in the Miranda decision by Chief Justice Warren:

  • …the attorney plays a vital role in the administration of criminal justice under our Constitution.”

It is Attorney Olson’s duty – and privilege – to help ensure that the defendant’s Constitutional rights are protected. Attorney David Olson provides zealous, effective and experienced legal representation to clients in West Palm Beach, South Florida and throughout the state.For more than 30 years Attorney Olson has represented thousands of clients accused of serious felonies and misdemeanors, including drug offenses, DUI, domestic assault and battery, sex offenses, driving violations, juvenile matters, white collar crimes and more.Whether you were informed of your Miranda rights or not, it is crucial to hire an attorney who will aggressively fight for your freedom and for the best case outcome possible. Many of Attorney Olson’s cases – especially those of first offenders - have been dismissed entirely. As well, many cases have resulted in a variety of positive outcomes, such as diversionary programs, community service, drug court, treatment, probation, favorable plea reductions and other alternatives to incarceration.Attorney Olson offers a free case consultation, which can be scheduled by calling The Law Offices of David W. Olson at 561-833-8866.


18 U.S. Code Sec. 3501 – Admissibility of ConfessionsMiranda v. Arizona, 384.U.S. 436 (1966)Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

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