02 Jan What if the police did not advise me of my rights?
If you have watched any crime drama on television in the past few decades, then you have probably seen a police officer arrest a suspect and read that suspect his/her rights. These rights are commonly referred to as Miranda warnings and serve to advise the suspect that he/she has the right to remain silent, that anything he/she says may be used as evidence, that he/she has the right to an attorney and that an attorney will be provided if he/she cannot afford an attorney. Because of the numerous crime dramas on television, many people are under the assumption that a police officer must read someone their rights when they are arrested. That belief is inaccurate. These Miranda warnings only apply to situations of “custodial interrogation.” This means that police only have to read a suspect his/her rights when (a) that suspect is in police custody and (b) police are asking questions or taking actions that are reasonably likely to result in an incriminating statement from the suspect. Therefore, if the police do not intend to ask any questions of the suspect, they have no reason to advise the suspect of their Miranda warnings. Additionally, if the suspect made any incriminating statements to police before he/she was taken into custody, those statements will generally be admissible because the police have no obligation to advise a suspect of their Miranda warnings if that suspect is not in custody when the statements are made. Regardless of whether you were advised of your Miranda warnings or not, it is important to remember that you always have an absolute right to remain silent and not answer questions from law enforcement.
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