businessmaninhandcuffsLarge.jpgWhen a person is in custody…

…and before he/she is questioned by law enforcement, the suspect must be informed of their Miranda Rights, which stem from the US Supreme Court 1966 ruling in Miranda v. Arizona. These rights require the arrestee to be informed of his/her constitutional rights to counsel and to remain silent. If the arrestee is not informed of these rights, any evidence gained from the questioning is not admissible as evidence in a court of law.

Miranda Warning

The wording itself is called the Miranda Warning, and its issuance by an officer to a suspect in custody is often informally referred to as the suspect being Mirandized.

Below is the wording in the Miranda Warning:

You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and 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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?

Some police departments— such as in Indiana, New Jersey, Nevada, Oklahoma and Alaska— add the following sentence to the Miranda Warning:

We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court.

The person in custody must issue…

…a clear, affirmative answer to the Miranda Warning. In other words, silence is not a response, nor is silence an indication that the person is waiving his/ her rights, because the arrestee may not understand or may not speak English as his or her first language. Throughout the US, many law enforcement officers have translations of the Miranda Warning on forms or cards that they present to those in custody.

Let’s say a suspect in custody clearly and affirmatively waives his Miranda rights. If he changes his mind at any time prior to or even during a police interrogation and expresses a wish to remain silent, the interrogation must cease. Or, if the arrestee states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.

By the way, US military branches provide for the right against self-incrimination through a form that informs suspects of their charges and their rights, which they are required to sign.


The above content is based on an excerpt from A Lawyer’s Primer for Writers: From Crimes to Courtrooms by Shaun Kaufman and Colleen Collins.  All rights reserved.

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Managing Partner at Shaun Kaufman Law
Shaun Kaufman has 30 years of in-court experience, with hundreds of hours spent defending numerous high-profile cases including homicide, white-collar theft and RICO offenses. Specialties: Criminal defense, personal injury, business litigation, DUI.

Shaun Kaufman Law: 303-309-0430
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