Miranda warnings are often misunderstood. Generally, these are the rights explained to you when a police officer places you under arrest. They have their beginnings in the United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Generally, you must be informed that:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- If you give up that right, anything you say may be used against you in court;
- You have the right to consult with an attorney and have one present before answering any questions;
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided at government expense.
What is often misunderstood is when these rights must be explained to you. In general, a police officer must only explain these rights to you when you are subjected to a custodial interrogation. Clearly, if you have been placed under arrest, these rights must be explained to you prior to any questioning. Some situations, however, are fact specific and may not be clearly custodial or non-custodial. In general, if you are free to leave and stop talking with the police officer, it will be found to be non-custodial, and not require Miranda warnings.
If the officer fails to issue the Miranda warnings during a custodial interrogation, all statements made are able to be suppressed from admission at trial. This excludes the statements from use as evidence. Other evidence obtained as a result of the statement may also be collaterally excluded.