In a 6-3 ruling issued on June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively curbed an implied requirement that those in police custody had to be read their Miranda Rights before police questioning. A common misconception is that Miranda Rights (also called Miranda Warnings) must be read as soon as someone is arrested, it was only legally important for police to do so before interrogation.
One of the reasons why reading Miranda Warnings was important was that law enforcement agencies and even individual police officers could be sued for failing to do so. That changed, however, when SCOTUS ruled in Vega v. Tekoh that Miranda v. Arizona provided no basis for civil damages when police officers fail to issue Miranda Warnings to those in custody.
This ruling removes law enforcement’s incentive to read Miranda Rights, effectively making it optional for them to do so.
What Are Miranda Rights?
Miranda Rights are found in the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. They are restatements of the right against self-incrimination and the right to be represented by legal counsel when you’re under investigation or charged with a crime.
Under the theory that most people are unaware of these rights, Miranda v. Arizona decided that people should be read these rights, as warnings, before issuing statements that could incriminate themselves.
Miranda Warnings are stated as the following:
“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 I Still Have My Miranda Rights?
Yes. Although the police can now choose to not read Miranda Warnings before questioning you, you are still protected against self-incrimination and entitled to legal counsel at questioning – even if you can’t afford a lawyer.
This means that if you do incriminate yourself during police questioning and aren’t read your Miranda Rights before doing so, that evidence against you can be thrown out in court.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
The recent SCOTUS decision only removes the potential to file a civil rights lawsuit against law enforcement agencies and officers who fail to read Miranda Rights. Even so, it’s extremely important to invoke your rights to remain silent and have legal counsel whenever you’re in custody.
If you need legal assistance from a criminal defense attorney who can help you protect your rights during this time, contact Rodriguez & Gimbert, P.L.L.C. today.