Most people are familiar with the Miranda Warning. In fact, many people can recite it because we hear it on television shows all the time, but what is it and how does it apply to Michigan criminal law and Michigan criminal defense?
Where is the Miranda Warning come from?
Miranda warnings became law based on a United States Supreme Court case called Arizona v Miranda. In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was accused and charged with rape, kidnapping, and robbery. Miranda was interrogated for over two hours without an attorney and eventually confessed. The prosecution only had his confession as evidence in this trial. Miranda had mental health issues and didn’t finish high school. He was convicted and sentenced 20-30 years based on his confession alone.
In this case, The United States Supreme Court decide that a person must be made aware of their constitutional right against self-incrimination before being questioned once they are arrested. This constitutional right lives today in every state including Michigan.
What rights do you have under Miranda in Michigan?
The right to remain silent. If you waive that right, then the police and prosecution will use your words against you. This is why you should not try to explain your situation. Even innocent people are tricked into saying things they don’t mean to say.
The right to an attorney. If you can’t afford an attorney, then one will be provided for you. Sometimes these attorneys are public defenders and other times they are attorneys who are court appointed through other means.
Lastly, you are asked if you understand these rights. If you do, then many police departments ask you to sign a paper that says you know and understand the Miranda warnings and that you waive them.
The police found physical evidence, does Miranda protect you?
No. Miranda only applies to your words. If the police search you and find evidence to support the crime even though you were not read your Miranda warning, that evidence may still be used against you. Your words are protected only. You have a right to not tell on yourself.
The police said it would be better if you told them what happened. Is this true?
Not necessarily. The police are in the business of building cases and getting evidence to use against you. It is better for the police if you confess, but it hurts your chances at a more favorable result. The police are trained to ask you questions to get the information they need. The police are allowed to trick you into answering their questions too. You don’t have that same training, which is why it is important to ask for your attorney and not answer the police officer’s questions about what happened. You should identify yourself though, that is not the same as confessing.
The police didn’t read me my rights and arrested me, what now?
Call me so we can discuss whether you have a valid defense. I will speak about the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Some cases have Miranda issues, others have search issues, and then there are cases where you options are limited. I am happy to offer a free consultation to discuss your case. I work out of Washtenaw, Livingston, some parts of Wayne, and Lenawee counties.