How can the Miranda warning help?

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution provides all citizens the right to not incriminate themselves. As adjunct to that is what is referred to as the Miranda warning. Many Boulder residents have likely heard of this law. Its use is specific to any time in which law enforcement officers may be questioning a suspect or defendant. People facing a potential DUI charge, for example, may benefit from the warning.

The law offers protection for suspects but can also work against them if it is not fully understood. Therefore, it is important for people to get the facts about this warning.

Miranda warning basics

The basic principle of the Miranda warning is that police must read certain rights to people prior to entering into any line of questioning. It works as follows:

  • Any person may invoke the Miranda warning by directly stating to officers that he or she does not wish to answer any questions at a particular time.
  • Biographical information is always required to be given to police and falls outside of the scope of the Miranda warning.
  • The Miranda warning cannot prevent as arrest as persons can be arrested without any questioning first taking place.
  • Officers are prevented from asking questions until they have read the entire Miranda warning text to suspects.
  • If a person declines to answer questions at one point, he or she can opt to answer them at a later time and vice versa.

Police must always abide by the wishes of the parties that they would be questioning. Asking questions when it has been clearly stated that the defendant does not wish to answer can be a violation of the person's rights.

How can people invoke the warning?

Anyone facing a charge must directly state his or her wishes not to be questioned to police. If the defendant simply remains quiet, that can be taken as permission to ask questions. If this happens, even body language or facial expressions can be interpreted and used by law enforcement. This part of the law is from a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

What happens when the warning is not read?

A case in Boston was recently the subject of a Huffington Post article. The defendant was asked many questions by police without the warning being read. Additionally, the man allegedly wrote on paper that he did not wish to participate in questioning. A judge is currently reviewing the case to determine if the actions or statements from that time can be used in the case.

Legal input is critical

Anyone who is in need of a criminal defense should contact a lawyer. With serious consequences at hand, it is important to work with someone who has the experience needed in such a situation.