Understanding the Miranda Rights


Miranda Rights are often read to criminal suspects when being placed under police custody before being asked questions that could cause them to admit guilt in relation to a particular crime committed. However, remember those police officers are permitted to ask suspects specific information without placing them under police custody or without issuing them with the Miranda Rights. Part of this information includes the suspect’s name, date of birth, and even address. Below is what the typical version of Miranda Rights should look like:

Defendants have a right to remain silent and anything they say during an arrest can and will be used against them in a court of law. They also have a right to a lawyer who can be present during questioning. Defendants who are unable to afford a lawyer will be provided with one. The defendants are finally asked if they understand the rights that have been read to them.

Note that some states may have slightly different sentences or phrases toward the end. For instance, suspects may be informed of their right to contact their country’s consulate before any questioning if they are not U.S. citizens. Suspects can decide to exercise these rights at any time and terminate the interview. They also have to be asked if they understand the rights read to them and whether they still wish to speak to the police officer with all that information in mind.

History and purpose

Miranda Rights first gained prominence in the U.S. in 1966 when the U.S. Supreme Court reached a decision in Miranda vs. Arizona. This decision defined the citizen’s rights to help protect a criminal suspect’s Fifth Amendment rights, as some suspects could easily incriminate themselves by offering too much information when being arrested. The Supreme Court decision never specified the wording that must be used to communicate to the suspects about their rights but issued a set of guidelines to be followed when being arrested and they include: 

The defendant in custody must be informed of their right to not answer any questions before they are interrogated and that anything they say can be used against them before the judge in a court of law. They must also be informed of their right to a lawyer who can be present during questioning. 

Therefore, when being vocalized to a criminal suspect, Miranda Rights do not have to be presented in any particular order or read out in the precise language outlined in the Miranda decision. The most important thing is adequately informing the suspect of their rights when being arrested, which should be done by the arresting officer.

If the suspects expressly or impliedly indicate before or during questioning that they choose to remain silent, the interrogating officer (s) must end the interview. If they request to speak to their attorney before or during the interrogation, the interrogation must stop until they are provided with an attorney. The suspects must be provided with an opportunity to consult and confer with their attorneys and have them present during subsequent questioning sessions.

Therefore, Miranda Rights must be read to a criminal suspect when being arrested before he or she is taken for questioning. Miranda Rights are meant to protect suspects from self-incriminating statements and responses when being arrested. While suspects have a right to remain silent and not answer any questions in the absence of their lawyers, police officers are permitted to obtain specific information that helps to identify the suspect, including name, date of birth, and address. Miranda Rights do not have to be read in any particular order as long as the right information is conveyed to the suspect.