People who are being interrogated by police officers have specific rights they need to know about. Some of these have been codified via the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution. For example, the Fifth Amendment confirms that Americans are protected from being forced to incriminate themselves.
The United Supreme Court upheld this right in a case brought before it, Miranda v. Arizona. This hallmark case instituted the requirement that anyone who’s being taken into custody and interrogated by police officers must be told they have specific rights under the Fifth Amendment. This requirement has been dubbed their Miranda rights.
Clearly invoking your rights helps you preserve them
Just because police officers read you the Miranda warning doesn’t mean that your rights are automatically invoked. Instead, you must clearly invoke them. Without a clear invocation, officers are free to continue to question you — and that can put a lot of pressure on you to engage.
Invoking your Miranda rights can be done in several ways. You can say things like:
- “I wish to remain silent.”
- “I choose to invoke my Miranda rights.”
- “I invoke my Fifth Amendment rights.”
- “I want to speak to my attorney.”
Once you invoke your rights, police officers have to stop questioning you until a legal representative is present or you waive your right to have an attorney present. In Georgia, the law also prevents you from being forced to perform any act that could be incriminating, which is an additional important protection.
What happens if an officer doesn’t Mirandize you when you were arrested? Contrary to popular belief, that doesn’t mean your case will be dismissed. Miranda warnings are only required when someone is both in custody and under interrogation. If the police have all the evidence they feel they need before they arrest you and they aren’t questioning you, they don’t need to read you your rights.
Anyone who’s facing criminal charges in Georgia should ensure that they understand how their rights might impact their defense options. Taking the time to plan a strong defense strategy will be critical going forward.