When a Texas law enforcement official attempts to question you about anything having to do with an alleged crime, whether or not (s)he indicates (s)he thinks you may be the suspect (s)he’s looking for, you need to know your Miranda rights. As FindLaw explains, these rights stem from the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona.
You probably have heard fictional police officers giving the Miranda warning to criminal suspects numerous times in the movies or on TV, so you know this warning contains the following four parts:
- 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 appointed for you.
What you may not know, however, is that officers only need to give you the Miranda warning when they arrest you. They do not have to “read you your rights” prior to your arrest. Nevertheless, you always have these rights and you never need to voluntarily talk with law enforcement officers except to give them your identification if and when they ask for it.
Your Miranda rights flow from the following rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution
- Fourth Amendment – your right to remain free from governmental unreasonable searches and seizures
- Fifth Amendment – your right not to incriminate yourself
- Sixth Amendment – your right to have an attorney present any time officers question you, before or after they arrest you
Never underestimate the power of your Miranda rights and your constitutional rights from which they flow. They constitute your fundamental protections in a criminal situation. While you should never “mouth off” to a law enforcement officer, you should always insist on speaking with an attorney whenever an officer attempts to question you about anything.
While this information is not legal advice, it can help you understand the vital importance of your Miranda rights.