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Why is the Miranda Warning Important?

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 speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you by the government.

These words, or variations on them, have become synonymous with arrests in American culture. Criminal defense lawyers in the Fort Lauderdale area deal with sticky Miranda situations in many cases. Clients from Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties all want to know: when does a police officer have to read me the Miranda warning and what does it mean?

The Miranda warning came out of a 1966 Supreme Court decision called Miranda v. Arizona, in which Ernesto Miranda’s criminal defense lawyer appealed his client’s conviction for robbery and attempted rape. While in police custody, Miranda confessed to the crimes. The Miranda warning prevents police from taking advantage of suspects who have been arrested or are in police custody. The Miranda Court determined that these protections were necessary to safeguard suspects’ Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The Miranda warning should be given before interrogation when a suspect is in custody. If a police officer stops to speak with an individual, but that person is free to go, the Miranda warning does not apply. Despite the warning, many criminal suspects choose to submit to interrogation and speak with the police without consulting a criminal defense lawyer. Exercising the rights to remain silent and to speak with a criminal defense attorney is frequently, and perhaps always, in a suspect’s best interest.

When a suspect decides to answer police questions when he is in custody, he must waive his Miranda rights. After the warning, the police will typically ask if he understands his rights and if he would like to speak with the police. An affirmative answer to both questions usually means that the information the suspect provides police can be used against him in court later. For that reason, consulting an experienced criminal defense lawyer is important when making these decisions.

In order to use the information in court, the waiver of Miranda rights must be knowing and voluntary. The suspect must understand his rights, yet choose not to exercise them on his own accord. The suspect may invoke his rights at any time. For instance, he may initially agree to speak with the police to explain his whereabouts on the evening a certain crime occurred, and then invoke his rights later when the police interrogation becomes accusatory. When a suspect provides the police with incriminatory information when he was not properly given the Miranda warning, or did not understand or voluntarily waive his Miranda rights, the confession against him may not be admissible in court. Likewise, evidence that the police obtained but would not have found but for the incriminatory information provided in violation of Miranda is also likely not going to be admitted in court.

An arrest can be devastating. If you have been charged with a crime in Florida, contact William Moore, P.A., which has experienced south Florida criminal defense lawyers with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.

This article should be used for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

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