Miranda rights are based in the 5th Amendment right to remain silent and the 6th Amendment right to counsel.
Prior to Miranda, the police did not need to inform a suspect of their right to remain silent and their right to counsel. In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), this all changed. One of the driving factors behind the Miranda case was the use of interrogation techniques which at the time were not thought of at coercive. Law enforcement was not (in Miranda) using any physical force against Mr. Miranda. However, the nature of the questioning was in such a setting and was of such a duration that the Court had reason to be wary of the voluntariness of the confession.
Thus, the Court created a rule that before a custodial interrogation was to be allowed to be used against the accused at a trial, law enforcement had to advise the person of their right to remain silent, their right to counsel, and that if they spoke with law enforcement that their statements would be used against them.
Miranda Applies in a Custodial Interrogation Setting
So, if the you are in a custodial interrogation setting, typically handcuffs on and in the back of a patrol car (or anything subsequent to that), the police are supposed to read you the Miranda warnings if they plan on using any of your own statements against you. If they do not read the warnings, and you provide incriminating statements, then you may be able to keep your own statements out of your case.
Exceptions to the Miranda Rule
There are many exceptions to the Miranda rule as well. For instance, if your statements are just volunteered (not in response to police questioning), then they may still be admissible against you. Also, statements made without Miranda warnings can still be used to impeach you (if you testify at trial that you did not commit the crime, but you told the police you did, they could use your non-Mirandized statement in to color your testimony at trial negatively). There are also exceptions regarding public safety.
Many people, despite the warnings, still provide statements and confessions to the police. Most lawyers would recommend heeding the warnings provided as they are there for your protection. Most of the time, you will not be able to talk your way out of the charges. Then, any statements you make, even if you may not think they are hurting your case and they actually are, can be used against you.
Unfortunately, not having the warnings read to you does not mean that your case will just be dismissed. If you are charged with a crime, be sure to consult with a criminal defense attorney about your case.
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