When law enforcement officers make an arrest on suspicion of a crime, the atmosphere surrounding the moment is fraught with fear, anxiety and a sense of intimidation. It is in these moments that an individual can forget that he has rights that are protected under the U.S. Constitution.
One of these rights is the protection against self-incrimination, spelled out in part under the Fifth Amendment:
“No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…” (U.S. Const. amend. V).
Another constitutional right protecting an individual held in custody is found in the Sixth Amendment:
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” (U.S. Const. amend. VI).
While these rights have existed since our nation’s founding, it wasn’t until fairly recently that the U.S. Supreme Court mandated a requirement that a citizen be informed of those rights before the authorities can question him.
What are Miranda rights?
The 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, outlined requirements that law enforcement agents must follow if they wish to interrogate a suspect in their custody. The four statements of the Miranda Rights are the following:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
- You have a right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
It is important to remember that when the police question you, it is for the purpose of gathering evidence against you. The precinct also routinely records the interrogation, and the police are not required to inform you of this.
Even if you are innocent of a crime or have information that may helpful, waiting to speak to a lawyer will guarantee that your rights will be respected.
When are Miranda Rights read?
Often people assume that the police must read them their rights at the time of arrest. Miranda Rights are only required after the suspect is in custody and interrogated. If the suspect is questioned and is not read his rights beforehand, any incriminating information he reveals cannot be used in a trial.
It is important to know what to do if you are arrested in New York City. But it also helps to have a strong criminal defense team to advise you of your rights if you are arrested and detained.