The average American has probably heard the phrase that begins “You have the right to remain silent” hundreds of times on television shows and in films. Some have unfortunately had to experience these words first-hand, as well.
However, for being such a fixed and widespread idea in our culture, Miranda rights are subject to a lot of misunderstanding and confusion on the part of the general public. For example, their appearance in nearly every fictional arrest scene has led many to believe that they are an automatic and obligatory part of any police action.
Rights and Wrongs
In fact, officers are only required to read a suspect his or her rights when intending to interrogate him or her, either at a station, in a squad car, or while detained. If police do not pursue any questioning, they are under no compulsion to address a person’s rights.
Moreover, the right to remain silent does not apply to standard, non-custodial questions such as name, address, and date of birth. In some jurisdictions, being detained differs from being under arrest, and anything a suspect says under the first circumstances can be held against him or her.
It is also important to remember that Miranda rights are designed to protect someone from self-incrimination, not incrimination per se. Thus, a person suspected of driving under the influence would not be protected from a blood test, as it is not his or her words or actions that pertain to evidence of guilt.
A thorough understanding of your rights in police encounters and courts of law is extremely important for each and every citizen. However, these laws are often profoundly complex and can vary widely by jurisdiction.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime and you wish to know what role the Miranda rights might play in your case, contact the experienced team of San Jose criminal defense lawyers at the offices of Daniel Jensen, P.C. today by calling (408) 296-4100.