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A landmark Supreme Court case in 1966 forever changed the way police deal with suspects. That case was Miranda v. Arizona, which ruled that officers must inform individuals of their Fifth Amendment rights when conducting an arrest. Some of the things a person must be informed of include the right to remain silent and right to have an attorney present when questioned.
In order to raise the issue that police violated your Miranda rights, it must be clear to officers that you have chosen to exercise them. Simply remaining silent and refusing to answer questions is not enough. In a 2010 case, Berghuis v. Thompkins, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the defendant’s silence was not enough to invoke his Miranda rights under law. Instead, the court ruled that Thompkins should have verbally communicated to officers the fact that he wished to remain silent.
Vocally expressing your desire to remain silent does not preclude law enforcement from questioning you at a later time. In another 2010 case, Maryland v. Shatzer, the Supreme Court ruled that a person who verbally states his wish to remain silent can be questioned again after 14 days. If that person then makes incriminating statements, those words may be used against him unless he once again states his wish to remain silent.
Individuals can waive their Miranda rights if they wish to cooperate with police and answer questions. When doing so, officers will normally ask that person to sign a written waiver of those rights. In order to actually waive your Miranda rights, you must be capable of understanding them as well as the consequences of doing so. This deters police from using trickery or unscrupulous tactics in order to coerce a suspect into a confession.
Evidence obtained from an unauthorized line of questioning can sometimes be suppressed in a court of law under what is known as the Exclusionary Rule. Part of the work of a criminal defense attorney involves making sure that police questioning is above board and that a client’s Miranda rights were not violated. Some factors that could determine this are:
If you have been formally charged with a crime and believe your Miranda rights have been violated, talk to attorney Shahin Zamir at 713-223-8900 to get a free case review.