Right to Remain Silent
Posted by Scott Gorman - November 13, 2016

Along with “We the People” and “Four score and seven years ago,” “You have the right to remain silent” is one of the most widely-recognized phrases in our country. Thanks to criminal shows like CSI and Law and Order SVU, the opening lines of what are commonly known as “Miranda rights” are what most people are familiar with and associate with criminal investigations.

In crime show dramas on TV, the scene typically fades out once the arrest is made and the opening lines of the person’s Miranda rights are all that the audience hears. However, there are several other protections granted to people in custody for suspected criminal activity beyond the right to silence, and people should be aware of these rights in case they end up involved in a criminal case or in police custody.

Why Miranda?

The Miranda rights were established as a result of the United States Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. This 1966 case involved statements that the police obtained from the defendants while they were interrogated by officers with respect to criminal activity. The U.S. Supreme Court determined that the defendants had not been advised of their constitutional rights before they were interrogated and ruled that the statements were inadmissible in the case because the police had violated the suspects’ Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Miranda, there are three requirements that must be met for police to read a suspect his or her Miranda rights:

1. Custody – To be in police custody, a person need not be placed under arrest. Rather, the test for determining whether a person has been placed into custody depends on whether a reasonable person would feel free to leave under the circumstances. Significant factors include the level of force used by the police and the location of the questioning. Being interrogated at a police station is more suggestive of a custodial situation, but a person could be placed into custody in his own home.
2. Interrogation – The suspect may be asked questions that could lead to self-incrimination. The standard for interrogation is set by whether the officers involved know that a suspect has a high potential to incriminate him or herself in providing testimony or answering questions.
3. Testimonial – The Miranda protections only apply when a person is providing testimony to the police. A person providing information in a lineup, for example, does not trigger the protections of the Miranda rights because he or she is just providing confirmation of physical characteristics.

A defendant can waive his or her Miranda rights through an express or implied waiver. This waiver must be given freely with an intelligent understanding that he or she is forfeiting those rights. The waiver must also be made without any coercion or influence by the arresting officers. Anyone who waives his Miranda rights still has the right to change his mind at any time and invoke the Miranda protections.

At The Gorman Law Firm, Scott Gorman represents anyone who has been charged with criminal activity or has been called in for questioning in a criminal investigation. Any wrong move could lead to additional charges or further suspicion, so it’s important to have a  Morristown criminal defense attorney like Scott by your side to navigate the challenges presented in a criminal interrogation. For more information about your rights under the law, contact The Gorman Law Firm today.

Published in Categories: Criminal Defense