The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything the person says will be used against that person in court; the person must be clearly informed that he or she has the right to consult with an attorney and to have that attorney present during questioning, and that, if he or she is indigent, an attorney will be provided at no cost to represent her or him.
~Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
From the right against self-incrimination enshrined in the Fifth Amendment and the right to counsel apotheosized in the Sixth Amendment, the Supreme Court fashioned the Miranda Rights warning. Though most people have heard the Miranda Rights recited in movies or on television, these rights, both in their application and their meaning, remain a mystery to nearly everyone outside the criminal justice system.
Cambridge Criminal Lawyer Explains Miranda Rights
Neither the Miranda decision nor any later Supreme Court decisions require a police officer to recite the Miranda warnings to an individual at the time he is arrested or taken into custody. Instead, the Supreme Court requires the police or FBI agents to recite the warnings before interrogating those in custody. Unless these law enforcement agents intend to question individual they have taken into custody, they are under no obligation to recite the warnings.
Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.
~Judge Learned Hand
If the police fail or refuse to recite the warnings to someone in custody before questioning him, and the individual makes incriminating statements in response to that questioning, the individual (now very likely the “defendant”) can challenge the constitutionality, and therefore the admissibility, of those statements. Should the Court find the defendant, while in custody, made incriminating statements in response to police initiated interrogation, without having first been informed of his rights, it has the authority to rule these statements inadmissible at his trial. If the police fail to recite the warnings to an individual in custody before questioning him, but individual makes no such statements in response, there is no remedy available to the defendant.
Once an individual, whether or not he has been so warned, asserts his right to silence or to a lawyer, the police are prohibited from further questioning him. Despite the clarity and force of the Miranda decision, and its progeny, law enforcement agents regularly ignore their responsibilities to recite the warnings and to abide by a suspect’s declaration that he is asserting his rights to silence and to counsel.