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Understanding Your Miranda Rights

When you are taken into custody by law enforcement, they are required by law to read you your Miranda Warning, or as they are more commonly known, your Miranda Rights. The name comes from the Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona from 1966, in which the court ruled that people in custody must be read their rights in order to be informed of their abilities under the Fifth Amendment. This gives people the ability to avoid incriminating themselves, which in many cases, law enforcement will attempt to do with their questioning. So how should you use these rights to your benefit if you are arrested? Let’s look at them in more detail to learn how they can impact your case.

Your Miranda Rights

One of the most common readings of Miranda Rights is: “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 have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?” Let’s break them down in further detail.

“You have the right to remain silent.”
This is perhaps the most well-known Miranda right. Essentially what this means is that you have the right to refuse to answer questions from law enforcement to avoid incriminating yourself (more on that in a bit). This has otherwise become known as “pleading the fifth.”

“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
This is law enforcement notifying you that your answers of any questions are considered admissible evidence in court, and law enforcement will use any of this evidence they find that benefits the prosecution’s arguments against you. You may refuse to answer questions, and it’s for this exact reason that you should refuse to answer questions until you have legal counsel presence. If you’re worried about your silence harming your case, rest assured your silence cannot be considered an admission of guilt.

“You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning.”
It is strongly advised you have a legal representative present throughout your case, and you have the right under the Fifth Amendment to have this legal counsel present during questioning to advise you. If you wish to have an attorney present, simply inform law enforcement and they should permit you to contact an attorney.

“If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
Not everyone can afford a private attorney. When this is the case, law enforcement will obtain a public defender to help you with your case. These attorneys are funded by taxpayers, and will help you with your case, but it’s worth noting they do not have control of their caseload or what kinds of cases they take. It is highly advised you seek private representation from a trusted attorney; the benefits dramatically outweigh the costs.

“Do you understand these rights?”
This is perhaps the most important right: if you do not understand any portion of the warning that law enforcement has given to you, you are allowed to request clarification, and your answers are still not permissible as evidence. In some cases, you can request these rights in written form, or translated into another language if you are not fluent in English. Once you acknowledge that you understand your rights, any answers you give regarding your case is considered admissible, and could be used as evidence against you.

If you are facing criminal charges, a Bakersfield criminal defense lawyer from Campbell Whitten may be able to help you. Our team of dedicated advocates is determined to help you seek the best possible outcome to your case, and we fight tirelessly to help you preserve your rights and freedoms. We can help you through nearly any criminal charges, ranging from theft crimes to DUI charges to sex crimes and even violent felonies. Trust your case to an attorney with a long record of success and numerous awards, including being named one of the 14 Best Criminal Defense Attorneys by Newsweek in 2014!

Call Campbell Whitten today at 661.735.1038 and request a case evaluation!