5 FAQs on Miranda Rights & the Fifth Amendment

The Relationship Between Miranda Rights & the Fifth Amendment

The Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona protects an individual’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination under the United States Constitution. Miranda rights require police officers to provide advisement of warnings before bringing a suspect in for custodial interrogation. The purpose is to protect suspects from making incriminating statements that could ultimately backfire later on.

Although many people who watch TV and consume media have likely heard the Miranda rights being read to a detained suspect, they don’t always understand what this warning implies nor how it is used. Without this key knowledge, people could be in a vulnerable position if they ever get arrested by the police.

That’s why our Westchester County criminal defense attorneys are here to answer five frequently asked questions regarding your Fifth Amendment Miranda rights:

What are Miranda rights?

The advisement of rights includes:

· You have the right to remain silent.

· If you do say anything, it can be used against you in a court of law.

· You have the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning.

· If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.

You are considered “in custody” for the purposes of Miranda if “under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonable person in the defendant’s position would consider himself to be deprived of his freedom of action to the degree associated with a formal arrest.”

Unless an individual falls under this “in custody” designation, Miranda rights are not required. For example, if you voluntarily go to the police station to make a statement, get questioned by officers on the street, or make a statement during a DWI traffic stop, your Miranda rights may not be required even though your answers may incriminate you.

What happens if my Miranda rights are violated?

If your Miranda rights are violated, a judge will suppress any statement(s) made as a result of the violation. In other words, the prosecution will not be able to use those statements against you at a trial. This could significantly weaken the prosecution's case.

Does a store security guard have to read me my Miranda rights?

No, a security guard or a loss prevention officer is not required to advise you of your Miranda rights because they are not the police or acting on behalf of the government. They are private parties. Statements made to a security guard or loss prevention officer are not subject to suppression according to the Fifth Amendment.

What is a police interrogation?

Interrogation consists of questions that are designed to elicit an incriminating response from you. Therefore, routine booking questions such as your name, address and date of birth fall outside of the Miranda warnings as they are often not considered to be interrogative.

Does invoking my Miranda rights or asking for a lawyer make me look guilty?

No, in most situations if the police want to speak with you or ask you to come to the police department, they have already decided to arrest you. Questioning you only serves to elicit incriminating statements to strengthen their case against you. The police want you to think you can simply “talk your way out” of your arrest but that is rarely the case.

Even innocent individuals run the risk of making a statement against their interests. Words can be twisted or misinterpreted by the police. A seasoned police officer or detective are experts in interrogation and can make innocent people admit to crimes they never committed. Police officers may withhold food, water, family support and bathroom breaks to get the answers they want from you. You may also suffer endless hours of questioning while deprived of these necessities.

As such, you should always request legal representation before speaking to the police. In fact, the sooner an experienced Westchester County criminal defense attorney gets involved, the more help they can provide. For example, attorneys can represent clients during the police investigation phase of a case to obtain information, take steps to avoid an arrest and build a strong defense.

Learn More About Your Miranda Warning & Fifth Amendment Rights

This area of the law is complex, and if not followed correctly, it can place innocent people behind bars. Therefore, if you ever find yourself in trouble with the law, you need to speak to an attorney immediately.

Call the Westchester County criminal defense lawyers at Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP. Our criminal defense lawyers are former Westchester County prosecutors and best-selling authors in the field of criminal defense, meaning we obtain insider knowledge on how both sides of the law work.

Do not proceed in your interrogation alone. Our firm can help with any criminal matter including assault, drug crimes, sex offenses, DWI and domestic cases, to name a few. Call (914) 840-5104 for a free initial case consultation. Our offices are conveniently located in downtown White Plains and Peekskill, NY.