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The Real Definition of Miranda Rights

 Posted on October 24,2022 in Criminal Defense

Knox County criminal defense lawyerMost people are familiar with the Miranda warning based on what they see on television shows and movies – a person is arrested and police must read them their Miranda rights or else the court will dismiss those charges, often with a lecture by the judge for not “doing their job correctly.” But that is not how real life works. The following is a brief overview of how the Miranda warning actually applies. For more detailed information about your particular case, contact Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney.

What Is the Miranda Warning and Miranda Rights?

The Miranda warning and Miranda rights were the result of a 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona. In this case, the court ruled that police are required to inform a person who is in custody of their rights when they are being questioned by a law enforcement officer. This is referred to as a “custodial interrogation.”

These rights include:

  • The right to remain silent

  • The right to consult with an attorney

  • The right to have an attorney present during any interrogation or questioning by law enforcement

Along with these rights, police are also required to let the person being detained know that anything they say can be held against them in court, and that if they cannot afford an attorney on their own, the court will provide them with one.

What Is Considered “In Custody?”

A person is legally considered in custody if they are not free to leave the location where police are engaging with them. Under Miranda, law enforcement must inform the person of their Miranda rights if the person is in custody and IF they intend to question that person and use any incriminating statements they make against them in court. There is no legal requirement under the law that a suspect must be informed of their Miranda rights as soon as they are arrested. The law only requires those rights be given if police are going to interrogate a suspect.

This means that a person can legally be arrested, handcuffed, put in a police vehicle, and transported to the police station for processing without ever being read their rights, as long as no police officer attempts to interrogate or ask them questions about the case. If at any time an officer begins to question the suspect about the case without reading the suspect their rights and the suspect makes an incriminating statement, the court might be required to throw that statement out because of the Miranda violation.

However, if the suspect starts volunteering information about the case without any prodding by police and makes incriminating statements, those statements can be used as evidence against the suspect. There is no Miranda violation in this situation, since police were not at any time conducting a custodial interrogation. 

Contact a Knox County Criminal Defense Attorney

If you are arrested, do not give police any information or make any statements without contacting a skilled Knoxville, TN criminal defense attorney. Call Jeffrey Coller, Knoxville Criminal Defense Attorney at 865-281-1000 to schedule a free consultation.


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