If you have ever watched a crime drama on television, then you have heard the police officer say to the suspect, as he tightens the handcuffs and drags him away, “You have the right to remain silent . . . . “ While this might make for good television, this scene reflects more than just a writer’s imagination. In actuality, this statement is part of the Miranda warnings required by the Constitution and protected by law.
In June 1966, the Supreme Court decided the case of Miranda v. Arizona (384 U.S. 436). In that case, the Court established procedures to protect an individual’s constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. These procedures require the police to advise a person in custody of his rights, and to warn of the risks of waiving those rights. Specifically, Miranda requires that a person in custody be advised:
You have the right to remain silent. Any statement you make can and will be used in court as evidence against you.
You have the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with you during interrogation.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, you have the right to have a lawyer appointed to represent you, without cost to you, prior to any interrogation.
An “interrogation” includes any words or actions by the police that are reasonably likely to cause a person to respond in an incriminating manner. Miranda warnings are to be given before the police question (i.e., interrogate) a person in custody – that is, prior to a “custodial interrogation.”
Contact a Massachusetts Criminal Attorney
In my experience as a Boston criminal defense lawyer, most people know the Miranda warnings, but fail to heed them. It is usually a mistake to speak with the police. If you are concerned about statements you made after being advised of your Miranda rights, or if you have questions about whether you were properly advised of those rights, call me at 617-492-0055 to schedule a consultation. Let’s discuss your situation and your legal options.