Understanding the basic constitutional protections that are afforded to anyone in the United States is important, especially when dealing with law enforcement. As often portrayed in television shows and movies, custodial interrogations have specific requirements the police are obligated to follow. Failure to do so can lead to the exclusion of potentially damaging evidence in your case.
What are Miranda rights?
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects against self-incrimination. If you are in police custody, Indiana law enforcement officers must read you your Miranda rights, as established in a 1966 Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, before questioning you. The officer should say the following:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can or will be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you
Once your rights have been read to you, the interrogation may begin. Many defendants feel obligated to answer police questions, but the truth is that you do not have to answer any questions during the interrogation. In fact, many attorneys will advise you to stay silent other than to confirm your identity if asked and to request an attorney.
If the officer questions you without first reading you your Miranda rights, your Fifth Amendment rights have likely been violated and anything you say during the interrogation cannot be used against you by prosecutors. Additionally, any evidence that is acquired as a result of something you said during the unlawful interrogation can also be thrown out.
Without your statements and related evidence, there is a strong possibility that your charges will be dismissed entirely. If you were subjected to an unlawful interrogation, it may be in your best interest to consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.