If you get arrested, you might know that anything you say can be used against you in court. But what does that mean? Are there limits to what the prosecution can use? Are there any times you can’t stay silent? Are there questions you must answer if the police ask them?
There’s more to your Miranda rights than you might have learned from watching cop shows on the television. Here are six things you might not already know.
- It’s actually the Miranda warning
The little speech you hear cops give when they arrest people in the movies and on television is called the Miranda warning. It’s named that because the Supreme Court ruled that police need to remind people of their rights in the 1966 case of Miranda v. Arizona.
- The Miranda warning doesn’t give you any rights
The Miranda warning doesn’t give you any rights. It only reminds you of your Constitutional rights. The Fifth Amendment protects you against self-incrimination. This means you can avoid saying anything prosecutors might use against you. The Sixth Amendment grants you the right to an attorney.
- The police don’t always have to give you the Miranda warning
The police may ask you questions without warning you of your rights. That doesn’t mean you have to respond. Even before the police remind you of your rights, they can use your words against you. The police only need to remind you of your rights after they take you into custody and before they question you.
- You can invoke your rights at any time
Even if you feel you have nothing to lose and start answering some questions, you can always stop yourself and say you want to invoke your rights. You can say you want to invoke your right to remain silent, and you want to contact an attorney.
- There are exceptions
There are some, but not many, cases in which you must reply to an officer’s questions. Failing to answer these questions honestly can get you in trouble:
- Indiana law says that if an officer stops you for an infraction, you must provide your name, address, date of birth and driver’s license
- The Supreme Court has created a “public safety” exception that allows for officers to ask questions focused solely on keeping the public from immediate harm
These exceptions have a notably limited scope. Your answers can be equally limited.
- Students deserve their Miranda warnings, too
As the IndyStar reported in June 2018, school police must recite the Miranda warning to students they intend to interrogate. With its ruling, the Indiana Supreme Court appeared to suggest that students held by police in a principal’s office were in custody just as much as adults in a prison cell.
Your rights don’t exercise themselves
The Miranda warning exists to remind you of your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. Those rights exist to ensure you get as fair a trial as possible. However, it’s still up to you to exercise those rights. They don’t do anything for you if you don’t use them.