You’ve heard Miranda warnings countless times in the movies or on television, but these Hollywood Miranda warnings aren’t always the same. The words may differ and they may be given to criminal suspects at different times during detainment.
While the entertainment industry can make up the rules, the police cannot do the same. Instead, Virginia police must provide you with the right Miranda warnings at the right time, or it could interfere with your legal rights and become part of your defense.
What are the Miranda Warnings?
In 1966, the United States Supreme Court decided the case of Miranda v. Arizona. In that case, the Court outlined what are now known as the Miranda warnings. The Miranda warnings come from the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
The Court found that before any custodial interrogation, the police must inform the person being interrogated of four things. Specifically, you must be told that:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to consult with a lawyer and to have an attorney present during any police questioning
- An attorney will be appointed for you if you want one and you cannot afford a lawyer
The police do not need to provide you with these rights in any particular order or with any specific words. However, the meaning of all four aspects of the Miranda rights must be provided clearly.
When Miranda Warnings Must Be Given
The Miranda warnings must be given to anyone who is subject to custodial interrogation. In other words, the police must provide a person with their Miranda rights if the person is detained or not free to leave police custody.
The police do not need to provide a person with Miranda warnings before asking questions if the questions are investigatory, the person is free to go at any time, and the person has not been charged with a crime. Anything that a person says during this type of questioning may be used against them later. The question of whether you were free to leave or detained may be contested.
Your criminal defense lawyer may investigate the circumstances of your questioning and raise any relevant defenses if the police failed to provide you with your Miranda rights. Some of the things that your lawyer and a court may consider when deciding whether you were in custody include:
- How you were summoned by the police
- Your familiarity with your surroundings
- The neutrality of your surroundings
- How many police officers were present
- Whether you were physically restrained
- How long the questioning took and the character of the interrogation
- Whether the officer believed you might have committed a crime and communicated that to you
What You Say May (or May Not) Be Used Against You
The government may use any of the following against you in a court of law:
- Statements or information that you volunteer without police questioning
- Answers that you provide to police questions if you were free to go at any time
- Answers that you provide to police if you waived your Miranda rights
However, if the police fail to provide you with your Miranda rights or violate your Miranda rights, then the information you give to them should not be used against you.
Discuss any Miranda Warning Concerns With an Experienced Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer
A police officer’s failure to provide you with your Miranda rights does not mean that all criminal charges against you will be dismissed. However, an experienced Fairfax criminal defense lawyer may be able to exclude statements you made that were obtained in violation of your Miranda rights. Additionally, a Fairfax criminal defense attorney can prevent problems if you contact us when (or before) you are given your Miranda rights and before you speak to the police.
If you have any questions about your rights or possible defense, please contact our Virginia criminal defense law firm today. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys will thoroughly review your case, provide you with an honest assessment of your defense, and advise you of your legal options.