When does the Miranda right apply?

Your Constitutional Rights

The Miranda warning is a verbal warning that all police officers must give a suspect before s/he is about to be taken into custody, and applies the whole time s/he is in custody.  Custody means a formal arrest or the deprivation of freedom where a reasonable person does not feel like s/he can leave.  It is the result of the famous 1996 Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, and has become part of established criminal procedure law to ensure that every American’s Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination is not violated.

In that specific case, Defendant Ernesto Miranda was arrested by the Phoenix Police Department on March 13, 1963, on suspect of kidnapping and rape.  After two hours of police interrogation, he signed a confession, and was subsequently convicted.  Miranda’s lawyer appealed his conviction on the grounds his confession was never fully voluntary and should have been excluded from his prosecution.  The Supreme Court held that due to the coercive nature of police interrogations, no confession nor statement could be admissible in court under the Fifth and Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer, unless a suspect knowingly and voluntarily waives his or her rights.


It is also important to note that Miranda warnings extend the right to remain silent to juveniles without his or her guardian present.

Do Not Say Anything

A Miranda warning typically states: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”  The exact wording of the warning may vary as long as the arresting officer reasonably conveys the message.

This means that if you are taken into custody for questioning, it is best to not say anything because anything you say can be used as evidence against you. Suspects all too often unwittingly reveal information that is later used as evidence of their guilt.  Instead, request for a lawyer to speak for you.

Once a suspect expresses his desire to retain counsel, s/he may not be subject to further interrogation. This rule applies even if s/he has already consulted with an attorney in the interim.  This means even if you have been assigned a lawyer, you have the right to stop answering or request for interrogations to stop until your lawyer arrives again. See Minnick v. Mississippi 1999.

When Rights are Violated

It is important to know that if your Miranda rights have been violated, it does not mean you automatically win your case.  It just means that the prosecution will not be able to use your statements as evidence in your trial and will have to proceed using other evidence (ie. witness testimony) to reach a conviction.

San Diego Miranda Rights Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has been zealously defending people’s constitutional rights for years.  If you feel your confession was coerced or involuntary, our seasoned lawyers will go through your case to determine whether your verbal statements can be rendered inadmissible in court.  Alternatively, if you or a loved one has been brought into custody, call us and we will defend your rights.  Our consultations are completely free and confidential.  We can be reached at our San Diego office at (619) 229-1870. You can also contact us at our North County location at (760) 476-0901, or visit us online.

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