It is likely that you have heard the phrase “you have the right to remain silent,” before. This specific Constitutional right is one of the more commonly known protections across the country.
Even though many people know that the police should remind them of this right – or give the Miranda warning – under the Fifth Amendment, they must understand the details of their Miranda rights, so they can properly protect themselves.
1. Know the basics
The Miranda warning does not only give you the right to remain silent. It also includes the warnings that:
- The prosecution can use whatever you say in the case against you in court
- Remember, you can have an attorney with you during questioning
- You can still obtain an attorney by appointment if you cannot afford one
2. When must police read you your rights?
Louisiana police might not read you this warning right at the moment of an arrest – and they do not have to, contrary to popular belief.
Police must only read you your Miranda warning when you are being questioned in police custody. This includes any time you are not free to leave, such as at the time of the arrest or even after the arrest in interrogation.
If they fail to read you your rights, it often means that any answers you give in questioning or interrogation cannot be used as evidence against you in court.
3. Remember: You must invoke them too
Even when police read you your Miranda rights, you still have to invoke them to protect yourself. Staying silent after police give the warning is not an automatic protection under the law. You must:
- Explicitly say you will not answer more questions, at least until an attorney is present
- Not answer any questions after you invoke them, as it could risk waiving the rights
Any efforts to question you should stop once you invoke this right.
It is often a safe strategy to avoid answering any questions, at any time, without an attorney present. This is true whether or not your Miranda rights apply at the time. Even if your Miranda rights are not in effect, you can protect yourself and your rights by not answering any questions until you have proper representation and defense on your side.