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Why are Miranda warnings so important after arrests?

On Behalf of | Jun 20, 2024 | Criminal Law

Anyone who has watched a movie or television show involving the police can probably recite a version of the Miranda warning. It is a common inclusion in dramatizations of criminal proceedings.

The Miranda warning is a verbal warning that police officers provide to those under arrest. The warning advises people of their right to remain silent, as well as their right to an attorney. The Miranda warning is one of the most important protections that exist for modern criminal defendants.

How the Miranda warning helps

While many people already know about their basic rights, it is easy to forget that information in a high-stress situation. The brain under stress does not perform optimally. Recall can be a major challenge, as can appropriate decision-making.

Hearing officers recite the Miranda warning can remind someone of how important it is to use their rights. They know that they are at risk of implicating themselves even if they haven’t broken the law. Hearing the warning could be an important reminder to request legal assistance and communicate with a lawyer before having any additional interactions with the police officer.

What does a Miranda violation entail?

Police officers do not need to provide the Miranda warning when they arrest someone. The warning is necessary prior to questioning while someone is in state custody. Police officers informally questioning someone they have not arrested do not need to give the warning. If officers never question someone after arresting them, then they may not issue the Miranda warning at all.

However, if police officers question someone who is in state custody without informing them of their Miranda rights, that is a Miranda violation. Even the failure to provide translation services could constitute a Miranda warning violation.

What does a violation mean for a defendant?

A Miranda warning violation is a violation of someone’s civil rights. It could potentially have an impact on their criminal defense strategy. Lawyers can use a special rule to exclude evidence obtained during questioning if a Miranda violation occurred.

Confessions and contradictory statements may become inadmissible. In some cases, excluding evidence might lead to the courts dismissing the charges against someone. Other times, the exclusion of certain evidence could strengthen a defense strategy. As such, understanding one’s rights can be crucial when fighting criminal charges.