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What are Miranda Rights and Warnings?

The Miranda warning is related to your rights against self-incrimination guaranteed by the 5 th Amendment and the Georgia Constitution. The name stems from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona which determined that anyone taken into police custody must be informed of their right to not make incriminating statements.

Your Miranda rights are to be read to you upon being arrested:

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?”

These are rights you are entitled to by law. If you wish to exercise your right to silence either before or during questioning, law enforcement is obligated to stop interrogating you. You must also be given the chance to speak with an attorney if you clearly state your desire to do so.

Unfortunately, we have heard these Miranda warnings so often on TV that people rarely stop to think about what it means. People often think everything will be ok if they can just explain their side, but, more often than not, police will write down everything that sounds incriminating, yet leave out all of the things you said that could help you. When defendant’s waive this extremely important right they often help law enforcement make a case against them.

Put more plainly, Miranda warnings tell a person that you don’t have to talk to police at all. You don’t have to say a thing. But if you DO say anything, it is going to be used against you in Court when the State tries to convict you of a crime. You also have a right to have an attorney with you and advising you before police can even ask you a single question. Even if you can’t afford an attorney, if you want one, the State has to provide you with free legal counsel before police question you.

These rights are so important that Police officers who fail to inform a suspect of their Miranda rights may not be able to use any statement or confession in a criminal case. For instance, Atlanta Criminal Defense Attorney, Brian Tevis, has successfully argued motions to suppress entire recorded “confessions” where police failed to stop questioning a client even after an attorney was requested. Also, any evidence found as a result of such a statement or confession could be dismissed from the case.

Even if you decide to waive your rights and wish to speak freely to police without an attorney present, you may change your mind at any point and police must stop questioning you. You could always give a statement once you have spoken to your attorney if it is advisable.

You should understand that police may arrest you without reading you your Miranda rights if they do not intend to question you. Clients often come in and say “police didn’t read me my rights when they arrested me.” Only if you are not free to leave and police want to ask you questions, will they then need to read you your Miranda rights. In addition, police may ask questions without a defendant being “Mirandized” if public safety is at stake.

If you want to protect yourself from possibly making incriminating statements when you interact with law enforcement, simply ask the officer, “Am I free to leave?”. If the answer is no, you are not free to leave, then you politely tell the officer you are not going to answer any questions without first speaking to an attorney.

No matter what you have been arrested for, you have certain rights—speak with an Atlanta criminal defense lawyer to preserve your rights and fight for your freedom!