“You have the right to remain silent.” For many people in New Jersey, this is a familiar phrase. Even if people have not encountered it through their own experiences, they have heard these warnings on a police drama on television. However, people may not consider just how important the Miranda rights can be until they or a loved one face charges in a criminal case. The Miranda rights take their name from a 1966 Supreme Court case that affirmed the obligation of police to provide information to people they arrest about their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against self-incrimination.
When people are arrested, police must inform them of their right to remain silent, that their statements can be used against them in court, of their right to a lawyer and that one can be appointed if they cannot afford to pay. While the form of the Miranda warnings may seem almost rote due to their pop-culture familiarity, they speak to fundamental principles that any person facing criminal charges may benefit from keeping in mind. People are not required to talk to the police and they can ask for a lawyer instead, no matter what police interrogators may tell them later on.
There are serious consequences that can follow if police do not provide proper Miranda warnings to those who are arrested. If they extract a confession or other information, it can be excluded from court as coerced, involuntary and unlawful. Any other evidence that was obtained as a result of the unlawful confession may also be thrown out of court in a criminal case.
Despite the significant consequences of a Miranda rights violation, police continue to ignore defendants’ rights in many criminal cases. A criminal defense attorney may help people to protect their rights and work to prevent a felony conviction.