It is not unusual for Minnesota residents and those elsewhere to not fully understand their legal rights. The law, especially criminal law, can have many specifics that the average person does not feel the need to explore until he or she faces a legal predicament. However, most people know that they have the right to remain silent.
The right to remain silent is one part of the Fifth Amendment. When an officer chooses to interrogate you, he or she should read you your rights. Commonly, this list is a Miranda Warning or your Miranda Rights. Is it always necessary?
When should an officer tell you your rights?
Ensuring that you know your rights is a significant part of any criminal investigation. If an officer wants to interrogate you about involvement in a possible crime, that officer must first read you your rights. However, this does not mean that the officer cannot ask you general questions before placing you under arrest. For instance, if an officer conducts a traffic stop, you may hear questions about where you were going or what you had been doing earlier in the evening.
If an officer places you under arrest, it may not be necessary to inform you of your Miranda Rights immediately at the time of the arrest. However, if authorities want to question you while you remain in police custody, they must inform you of the following rights:
- Your right to remain silent
- That anything you say can and will be used against you in court
- Your right to an attorney
- The appointment of an attorney if you cannot afford one
If any officer attempts to interrogate you while in custody without first informing you of these rights, the information you disclose will likely not be admissible in court. However, you can choose to waive your rights and answer questions with or without an attorney present. Still, an officer must inform you of your rights before that can occur.
Often, remaining silent can work in your favor when accused of a crime, especially if you do not have an attorney present. In many cases, individuals may think that they have not disclosed any incriminating information, but it is not unusual for officers and investigators to use even seemingly harmless details against suspects. Nonetheless, if you face criminal charges and did not hear your Miranda Rights before interrogation, that could play an important role in your case.