Criminal Justice Information Center- Maranda Warnings

Understanding Miranda.
In the case Arizona v Miranda, the Supreme Court held that a person in custody had to be informed of the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, and that anything you say could and will be used against you in Court. The reason for this ruling went to the fact that any statement or confession made to the police had to be made voluntarily, knowingly and willingly before it could be admitted in court. So once the police give you your Miranda Rights, any confession or statement is considered just that, voluntary, knowingly and willingly.

When Miranda Warnings Must Be Given
There is however a deep misunderstanding of the Miranda warning that is perpetuated by what we see on television. The greatest misunderstanding is under what circumstances the police have to give you these warnings. The Court held that in the Miranda case that a person had to be in custody. In later cases ruled that “custody” is whether a reasonable person would believe that he or she was restrained or free to go. Reasonableness is not determined by what defendant's thinks nor is the subjective intent of the police relevant to a court's determination whether an individual is in custody unless the officer makes that intent known. So, an individual who voluntarily goes to a police station is not in custody solely by virtue of an officer's subjective view that the individual is not free to leave. There must be an act indicating the intention to take the person into custody. Another example would be if you were walking on the street and a policeman starts to ask you questions, even though you might feel you could not walk away from the officer, you are not considered in custody, the officer can ask all the questions he wants and Miranda warnings are not required.

Best Advice is to Keep Your Mouth Shut
If this situation occurs, you are not required to say anything so the best advise is that if you are questioned by the police, politely refuse to answer their questions and request an attorney. Once you request an attorney the officer then must stop.

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