The Miranda rule guarantees that persons detained by police will not be interrogated in a way that places them at a disadvantage (i.e. without a lawyer or legal defense counsel). Basically, the Miranda rule guarantees that the person:
- Has the right to remain silent
- Has a right to a criminal defense attorney
- Will be provided with an attorney if the cannot afford one
Also, the person is to be informed that if they decide to waive their right to remain silent, their statements can be used against them in court.
These rights are typically read immediately after the person is taken into custody by the police. A person is taken into "custody" when they are not free to leave. Many suspects decide to remain silent until their attorney arrives, after which, they may proceed with answering questions.
The right to remain silent refers to the idea that the criminal suspect can choose not to say anything if the police ask them questions. This goes hand-in-hand with the constitutional right against self-incrimination during trial. Basically, the person indicates that they wish to remain silent until they can meet with their lawyer.
If the suspect begins speaking, however, they are usually deemed to have waived or forfeited their right to silence. This means that the statement that they said on their own volition can then be used during trial. There are certain exceptions in which Miranda rights don’t have to be read prior to interrogation, such as during a hostage negotiation situation.
The Miranda rule only applies to "Police questioning." This is any type of interrogation that is done during an official detention or in relation to an arrest. The interrogation must be geared towards obtaining information leading up to conviction, that is, that might be used in trial. Therefore, certain questions asked by the police might not be considered "police questioning" for Miranda purposes.
For instance, questions that are asked of all detainees during routine, standard booking procedures are not considered to be police interrogations. The detained person can answer such questions without fear that the information will be held against them in court.
Laws such as the Miranda Rule can sometimes be confusing to understand. This is especially true if there are points of the interrogation process that the defendant does not understand. This highlights the important of obtaining a criminal lawyer as soon as one learns that they may be facing a criminal case. A qualified lawyer can help when it comes to determining your rights in your particular case. Also, your lawyer can help represent you during the upcoming criminal hearings.