Legal Awareness: Know Your Miranda Rights
Have you ever been arrested? Caught driving under the influence of alcohol? Or accused of doing much worse? This article will provide you with fundamental legal awareness as to your rights during custodial investigation. “The psychological if not physical atmosphere of custodial investigations, in the absence of proper safeguards, is inherently coercive.” (Miranda vs. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436; 1996). Consequently, the landmark case of Miranda vs. Arizona provides a list of rights (popularly known as “Miranda rights”), which are available to a person under investigation. This basic legal awareness will save you from police abuses:
The person in custody must be informed at the outset in clear and unequivocal terms that he has a right to remain silent.
This Miranda right provides the legal awareness that the accused has an absolute right to remain silent, and his silence may not be used against him. This counters the false presumption that silence means admission of guilt.
After being so informed, he must be told that anything he says can and will be used against him in court.
This Miranda right provides the legal awareness that the accused has the privilege to choose what he wants to reveal, and what he wants to keep a secret. This is in keeping with the doctrine of self-incrimination, which prohibits a person, in a criminal case, from being compelled to be a witness against himself.
He must be clearly informed that he has a right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during the interrogation. He does not have to ask for a lawyer. The investigators should tell him that he has the right to counsel, at that point.
This Miranda right provides the legal awareness that the counsel should preferably be the choice of the accused, and not to mention, someone who is reasonably competent.
He should be warned that not only has he the right to consult with a lawyer, but also that if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.
This Miranda right provides the legal awareness that the condition if being poor does not deprive the accused of legal representation. It is the duty of the state to provide him with one.
Even if the person consents to answer questions without the assistance of counsel, the moment he asks for a lawyer at any point in the investigation, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present.
This provides the legal awareness that even if a right is waived by the person entitled to that protection; the presumption is always against the waiver. An accused may invoke the right at any time, even after having relinquished it previously.
If the foregoing protections and warnings are not demonstrated during the trial to have been observed by the prosecution, no evidence obtained as a result of the interrogation can be used against him.
This Miranda right provides the legal awareness that confessions and admissions made by the accused without the enforcement of his Miranda rights would be excluded from evidence, and therefore will not be prejudicial to the case of the accused.