Anyone who has ever watched a police procedural television show knows what their Miranda Rights are. At least, they think they do. One thing is certain, they have definitely heard the phrase, “You have the right to remain silent”. But what exactly are Miranda Rights? Who has these rights? When should they be read? And who is Miranda? Today we will be taking a look at the Miranda Warning.


In 1966, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the case of Miranda v. Arizona wherein a man, Ernesto Miranda, had been arrested and interrogated in 1963 for two hours. Then, he signed a confession that stated that he understood that anything he said could be used against him. However, Miranda had never been told of his right to counsel. He was not told of his right to remain silent before being given the form to fill out his confession. Miranda had been convicted in an Arizona court of law and sentenced to 20-30 years. His attorney filed an appeal with the Arizona Supreme Court stating that his confession was not, in fact, voluntary, and that Miranda did not truly understand his rights.

The Arizona Supreme Court upheld the conviction, thus he appealed to the United States Supreme Court. On June 13, 1966 the Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction and sent the case back to Arizona for retrial. In the statement after the ruling, the Supreme Court stated that “The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.”

When They Come Into Play

According to the Supreme Court ruling in this case, the Miranda Warning is not required to be read until after you are in custody and subject to interrogation. Custody does not have to be a formal arrest; it’s whenever your freedom of movement is limited in a manner that is similar to an arrest. Second, law enforcement must be interrogating you. Interrogation is the asking of questions designed to lead to incriminating evidence. If the police tell you that you are free to leave at any time or if you volunteer information without it being in response to interrogation, then any statement you make may be admissible in court even if you were not “read your rights” as they say on TV.

If you have been arrested and no Miranda Warning is issued, then any statement you make involuntarily cannot be used in court. However, any statement that is voluntarily made, even without a Miranda Warning, may be used in court. This does not mean that because you were not read your Miranda Rights after being detained that your case will be thrown out. Depending on the nature of the crime and the specifics of your case, any evidence garnered from the interrogation may be thrown out, and without evidence the case may be dismissed. But this is not always so. For some cases, there remains sufficient evidence garnered outside of interrogation that may allow the case to proceed.

In Conclusion

In any circumstance, whether you have been detained or not, you should not speak with police without an attorney present. It is important that you have someone on your side working on your behalf to protect you from any undue police scrutiny.