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BalduchiLaw Office, PC Sept. 1, 2023

What Are My Miranda Rights?

Most of us have seen police shows on TV where an officer informs someone in custody that they have a right to remain silent and be represented by an attorney during questioning. This statement, required by a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision, is known as your Miranda Rights.

Ernesto Miranda was convicted of kidnapping and rape based on a confession that was obtained without his being advised of his right to remain silent and to be represented by legal counsel. Nonetheless, after the Supreme Court voided his conviction and instituted the requirement for “Miranda Rights” to be read to anyone taken into custody, Ernesto Miranda was convicted in a retrial and sent to prison for 11 years.  

Four years after he got out of prison, he was stabbed to death in a barroom brawl at the age of 34. His suspected killer exercised his Miranda Rights and refused to talk and was, ironically, released and never charged with the crime. 

That history aside, Miranda Rights remain an important aspect of the criminal justice system in the United States. Note, however, that unless police are interrogating you for a crime, they do not have to read you your rights.  

They can ask for your name and driver’s license for identification and pose other questions so long as the questions are not related to a criminal charge they may file against you. In other words, if police take you into custody for questioning, they must read you your Miranda Rights. 

If you or a loved one is facing a potential criminal charge, or have already been taken into custody in or around Des Moines, Iowa, contact the criminal law attorneys at Balduchi Law Office, PC.  

With more than 25 years of experience in fighting for the rights of their clients, this legal team will fight for your future and put up a strong defense against any legal action being taken against you. If there have been any violations of your rights, including not reading you your Miranda Rights, they will use that to bolster your defense and challenge anything illegally obtained. 

Balduchi Law Office, PC also proudly serves clients throughout Polk County and surrounding counties. 

When Is a Miranda Warning Required?

As noted above, police are not required to read you your Miranda Rights unless they are questioning you about a possible criminal charge. This means when they take you into custody, they must read you your rights.  

Also, the Supreme Court did not “invent” new protections when it affirmed its decision in Miranda v. Arizona. The high court merely institutionalized a statement regarding a suspect’s rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 

What Are Your Miranda Rights?

Here is how the Miranda Rights warning is generally stated: "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 speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense." 

The crucial elements are: 

  • You do not have to say anything. You have a right to remain silent during questioning. 

  • If you do speak, what you say can and will be used in a criminal case against you, like it was in Ernesto Miranda’s first trial when he was not advised of his right to remain silent. 

  • You can have an attorney with you during questioning. 

  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you (a public defender, in other words). 

The right to remain silent portion echoes the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination. The right to an attorney derives from the Sixth Amendment, which not only affirms your right to an attorney, but also to a speedy and fair trial by a jury of your peers. 

What Happens if Police Don’t Read You Your Miranda Rights?

Generally, Miranda Rights must be read when there is an interrogation. If police arrest someone and are driving that person to the police station, and the suspect blurts out, without any officer asking a question, “I’m sorry for what I did to that person. I didn’t mean to hurt him that badly,” that can be admissible without any Miranda Rights warning. 

However, if during interrogation and answering a question the suspect makes the same statement, it will be admissible only if he were read his Miranda Rights before the interrogation began. If no rights were read, then anything the suspect says can be challenged as inadmissible. 

You Have Rights—Exercise Them

The key takeaways from the Miranda case and the warning that police and prosecutors must now read to suspects being interrogated are, literally, don’t answer any questions and don’t blurt anything out. Contact a criminal defense attorney before answering questions relating to a possible criminal charge.  

In the Des Moines area and in surrounding communities and counties, reach out to the criminal defense attorneys at Balduchi Law Office, PC whenever you face a possible criminal charge. Exercise your right to remain silent and your right to be represented by legal counsel during questioning.  


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