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What makes Miranda warnings so important?

On Behalf of | Jul 10, 2019 | Criminal Defense

The famous Miranda warning, typically started off with the statement “you have the right to remain silent” is well known in American culture, as it is widely shown in movies, television shows, and also discussed in media stories in New Hampshire and throughout the country. The guiding principle behind Miranda warnings is to make sure that law enforcement does not take advantage of a person’s ignorance of constitutional rights and coerce the person into self-incrimination.

As FindLaw explains, the original 1966 Miranda court ruling concluded that Ernesto Miranda, a man who petitioned the court that his civil rights were violated, was not fully explained his rights before he signed a confession admitting that he was guilty of a violent crime. In the Miranda ruling, the Supreme Court established the principle that without proper knowledge of their rights, individuals cannot voluntarily set aside their right to remain silent and not make incriminating statements.

In the event that the police question someone without presenting the Miranda warning first, the law will assume that any incriminating statement the person makes is an involuntary one. Without knowledge of their rights, individuals under arrest are not considered to have voluntarily waived their right against self-incrimination, so their confessions cannot be lawfully used against them. Additionally, evidence acquired because of a confession will also very likely be ruled inadmissible.

Along with protecting your right to remain silent, Miranda warnings make it clear that you should know that you can retain legal counsel to assist you. Having a professional criminal defense attorney provides you with an advocate to speak on your behalf. Defense counsel can also alert you to bad plea deals or subtle tactics law enforcement may use to get you to admit to a crime.

To sum it up, Miranda warnings preserve the ability of people to make informed decisions about their criminal defense options and prevent law enforcement from taking advantage of any gaps in your knowledge about the law. Keep in mind that this article is not written to provide actionable legal advice to readers. It is only intended as general information on criminal defense topics.