According to psychologists and other experts, people often waive their Miranda Rights because they don’t fully understand them or they don’t believe they have anything to hide. Understanding the Miranda Rights can help preserve important protections against self-incrimination.
(Article continues below infographic)
What are Miranda Rights?
Miranda rights are meant to protect a person from coercive interrogation techniques often used by law enforcement. When suspects are questioned by police officers, some can be easily coerced into admitting to a crime by sharing too much information or discussing details of the event. Juveniles, nervous suspects, and people who think they can talk their way out of the situation are especially vulnerable to waiving Miranda Rights and losing their protection against self-incrimination, false accusations, search without consent, and perjury. The Fifth Amendment states that no person can be compelled “to be a witness against himself.”
Miranda Rights state 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 speak to an attorney and to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense.”
Although many people have heard these words, experts report that some don’t fully understand what they mean. To exercise Miranda Rights, a person must say they want to remain silent. Any time police question a person who’s in police custody, that person has a right to invoke his/her Miranda Rights. As soon as that happens, the police interrogation must come to a halt.
All crime suspects are protected by their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and their Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. However, in certain cases involving serious offenses and violent crimes, a suspect can be questioned without being Mirandized if the suspect is considered to be an imminent threat to public safety.
Criminal suspects can waive their right to remain silent or to have an attorney present either expressly or implicitly. To expressly waive Miranda Rights the suspect would state, or sign something stating, that he/she waives the right to remain silent or the right to have an attorney present. An implied waiver means that the suspect behaves in a way that indicates a knowing and voluntary waiver of his/her rights. However, before Miranda Rights can be waived, a suspect must first be informed of those rights and fully understand them as explained.