An important part of being an American citizen is understanding your constitutional rights, which includes what’s under the fifth and sixth amendments. Both of them include the Miranda rights warning, which makes sure that law enforcement officers are respecting your rights. While it’s unfortunate, it doesn’t always happen. But if this kind of error has occurred, it may be your ticket out of any legal charges.
There are few principles within the complex web of criminal law that are as important as Miranda rights, because they protect the rights of people who are being arrested or interrogated. Understanding the importance of Miranda rights is important, especially within the context of Texas criminal cases.
What is the Miranda Warning?
The Miranda Warning is under the fifth amendment of the United States Constitution, and it guarantees your right to a grand jury. It protects you from being tried twice for the same crime and from making any incriminating statements against yourself. The Miranda Warning also includes the sixth amendment, which gives you the right to an attorney.
The Miranda Warning has its origins from a Supreme Court case in 1966, which is referred to as “Miranda vs. Arizona.” The case centered around Ernesto Miranda, who was arrested in Arizona three years earlier. The Supreme Court made a landmark decision, which required suspects to be informed of their rights listed under the Fifth Amendment (specifically about the one that protects you from self-incrimination). Before this decision was made, a lot of people weren’t aware of their rights during police interrogations. This resulted in a number of coerced confessions and constitutional violations..
These rights must be read to you before you’re taken in for interrogation. If you have ever heard of “pleading the fifth,” these are rights that are referenced in the Miranda Warning. It means that you’re exercising your right to remain silent, and it can be used during your initial interaction with law enforcement up to the time that you’re formally questioned.
What is Required in the Miranda Warning?
The Miranda rights were put in place so you can be protected from making any self-incriminating statements during an interrogation. This gives you the right to not answer questions or to wait until your attorney is present. In Texas, this warning can be broken into the following parts:
- You have the right to remain silent — While it doesn’t mean your charges will be dismissed or can skip the trial, your silence can’t be used against you in court. However, anything you say can and will be used against you. This means that if you choose to answer questions and make self-incriminating statements, anything you say is considered fair game and can be used in court.
- You have the right to have an attorney present — If you requested the presence of an attorney during the interrogation, it must be stopped. If you’re not able to afford one, an attorney will be provided for you at no cost.
If you weren’t read the Miranda Warning before you were formally questioned and there wasn’t a valid waiver of these rights, any statements or confessions you made during the interrogations are considered “involuntary” and can’t be used against you in court. The same is also true for any evidence that was collected because of those statements or confessions.
When is the Miranda Warning Not Required?
Police officers in Texas don’t have to read your Miranda rights before they arrest you or when they’re questioning you after they have stopped you based on reasonable suspicion, but they must be read to you before you’re taken into custody for formal interrogation. There are five other situations where the Miranda warning isn’t required, which include the following:
- Public safety issues.
- Standard booking questions.
- Traffic stops and violations.
- Statements obtained through a jailhouse informant.
- Questioning someone who is not in police custody.
If you were pulled over for swerving, the police officer doesn’t have to read you the Miranda Warning before asking you if you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. But if you answered “yes” while admitting to drinking and driving, this statement can still be used against you (even if the Miranda rights weren’t read to you before being questioned).
If you’re looking for a criminal defense lawyer in Corpus Christi to help you come up with an effective strategy for your case, be sure to reach out to Gale Law Group. We have a team of people who would be happy to speak with you!