You likely already know from watching movies and television programs that if law enforcement officers arrest you, they must “read you your rights,” meaning advise you of your Miranda rights. FindLaw explains that these four basic rights consist of the following:
- 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 an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
But when must officers inform you of these rights? If you watched the movies or TV programs carefully, you know that officers need only tell you about your Miranda rights at the time they arrest you, not before. Unfortunately, the U.S. Supreme Court granted officers this loophole when it decided the historic Miranda v. Arizona case in 1966.
What you need to know, however, is that you have these rights at all times, even though officers need not advise you of them prior to your arrest. The reason is simple. Your Miranda rights flow from three constitutional guarantees set forth in the Bill of Rights as follows:
- Your Fourth Amendment right to remain free from unreasonable governmental searches and seizures.
- Your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
- Your Sixth Amendment right to assistance of legal counsel whenever possibly facing criminal charges
Consequently, if officers attempt to question you about a criminal matter or ask that you “come down to the station and make a statement,” you have every right to respectfully decline to answer their questions or accede to their request. Remember, you have no protections, Miranda or otherwise, against whatever voluntary information you provide.