Understanding Your Miranda Rights

Thanks to the many TV shows and movies based around law enforcement and criminal activity, most of us are familiar with the first few lines of the Miranda warning that cops read when performing an arrest. The full script of this warning reads as follows:
“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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

As a citizen with these rights, you should understand exactly what they mean. How you act during an arrest could make a significant difference in the outcome of your case, so these rights outline exactly what you are allowed to do in reaction to an arrest.

The first part of the warning states your right to remain silent. This right means exactly what it says. You do not need to speak to the police, even if they try to ask you questions. As the warning says, anything you say will be used against you. In a court case, the prosecution will use anything they can to make you seem guilty. It is common for a person to speak out of anger, confusion, or fear during an arrest. You may say things you do not mean, or even just phrase words incorrectly. These mistakes are what the prosecution is looking for. They will take any words you say during or after an arrest and spin them to get the verdict they want. To keep this deceptive practice from happening, acknowledge and use this right. As politely as possible, tell the officer that you understand and wish not to speak until you have an attorney present. This right remains true before, during, and after an arrest, even after you are taken in by the police.

The second part of the warning states your right to an attorney. The inclusion of this right in the warning points to how important legal representation is. Attorneys have focused training in the law and in trial proceedings. A criminal defense attorney knows what to expect from the prosecution and how to avoid giving them any additional fuel for their argument. This knowledge is important, especially during the arrest and interrogation process. An attorney will help you phrase things in the best light and avoid self-incrimination. After politely refusing to speak to an officer, call a criminal defense attorney.

The last two lines of the warning check your understanding and ask if you wish to speak. If you refuse to speak and the officers still try to ask questions and get information from you, politely refuse until an attorney is present. This decision could make the difference between a conviction and dropped charges.

Contact Us

If you are in need of qualified criminal defense representation, contact the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter. Our attorneys are experienced in handling interrogations as well as court proceedings. We are devoted to guiding our clients and protecting their rights throughout the entire legal process. To learn more about our services, contact our office at (214) 845-7007.

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