Anyone who watches crime dramas on TV or in the movies is very aware of the Miranda rights police read to suspects upon arrest. However, relatively few people know about the 2010 changes in the law that can cause the loss of those rights. You need to learn how to take proper advantage of your Miranda rights before a lawyer arrives to defend you.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court made three landmark decisions pertaining to Miranda rights, according to The New York Times:
- Police do not have to use standard wording when reading Miranda rights.
- As long as two weeks after release from custody, individuals who initially invoked their Miranda rights can be subjected to a second round of questioning.
- Suspects must explicitly state that they want all questioning to stop in order to invoke the right to remain silent.
Many people believe that, while they naturally need to request their right to an attorney, they merely need to remain silent to invoke this right. However, when a Michigan man refused to acknowledge in writing that he understood his Miranda rights and much later was coerced into admitting to murder, that admission led to conviction. Nearly nine years later, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the conviction in a five-to-four decision. The majority opinion essentially stated that law enforcement cannot automatically assume suspects want to invoke the right to remain silent unless they make a formal, express statement.
The arrest process can scare and confuse anyone, particularly before a legal advocate arrives at the person's side to protect his or her rights. Regardless of the reason for an arrest, anyone taken into custody should clearly state that he or she wants all questioning to stop, wants to remain silent and wants to call a criminal defense attorney to represent him or her throughout the legal process.