What You Need to Know About Your Miranda Rights

“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?”

Even if you have never been arrested, you likely have heard your Miranda rights before, whether on TV or in the movies. If you ever do get into a situation where you are read the Miranda warnings, there are a few essential things you need to know about your rights to silence and an attorney.

Always Ask for a Lawyer

If you are arrested and/or brought in for interrogation, the best thing you can do is ask for a lawyer and then stop talking. A large majority of convictions come from people self-incriminating themselves during interrogation. Even if the police imply that they will go easier on you if you cooperate, or harder on you if you do not – both of which are improper – it is best to say nothing until you can talk to a lawyer.

When directly asked if you wish to speak to the police, a great response would be, “I would like to assert my right to remain silent, and I would like a lawyer.” By clearly and unequivocally invoking your rights, the police must cease questioning. Also, make it clear that you are asserting your right to make a phone call to a lawyer or family member. If you choose not to call a lawyer, you still are protected by your Miranda rights if you clearly invoked them. If you have invoked your right to counsel, the police should not interrogate you without the presence of a lawyer. Just make it clear that you want a lawyer.

You Can Invoke Your Rights at Any Time

If you choose to waive your right to silence or for an attorney, and talk, but later change your mind, you have the power to do so and can invoke your rights at any time.

When You Will or Should Be Read the Miranda Warning

Miranda is required whenever there is custodial interrogation. There must be both custody and interrogation. What does that mean? You must be informed of the Miranda warning concerning your rights once you are under arrest, or in custody to the degree that a reasonable person would believe they were under arrest, and the police decide to engage in interrogation, which includes questions or statements designed to get you to talk and incriminate yourself. If you are just being detained, the police do not have to read Miranda. Also, if you are not being interrogated, then Miranda does not apply.

However, under Iowa law, even if you are not interrogated, but are in police custody, under Iowa Code section 804.20, if you ask for a phone call to an attorney or family member, the police must allow the phone call once you arrive at any place of detention, including the police station.

To learn more about your rights before, during and after arrest, visit my page Know Your Rights.

If you have further questions, please contact me via my Contact Me form.