Experiencing the aggressive behavior of law enforcement during an arrest can be overwhelming, and in that terrifying moment, it may feel like you have no hope of receiving fair treatment. For people in Missouri and elsewhere who have been stopped on the road or chased, tackled or even tased, such treatment can leave them feeling fearful and helpless.
It is precisely during this ordeal that it is important to remember that every American citizen has certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. This is why suspects must have their Miranda Rights read to them before law enforcement can question them.
What are Miranda Rights?
Police intimidation was the focus of the 1966 Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona, which ruled that law enforcement agents are required to inform suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning them while in custody.
The five statements that an officer must make to the suspect are:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you.
- You have a right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
- Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?
The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution protects citizens against self-incrimination: “No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.
The right to legal representation may be found in the Sixth Amendment: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
When the officer must read a suspect their Miranda Rights
There is a popular misconception about how or when the officer reads a suspect their rights. In fact, the officer does not state the Miranda Rights at the time of arrest, but only after the suspect is in custody and before going in for questioning. If an officer fails to follow this legal procedure, any incriminating evidence the suspect admits to cannot be used at trial.
The purpose of the interrogation is to obtain the evidence necessary for a conviction. Often, law enforcement will record the interrogation, and they are not required to inform the individual of this. So, any statements that a suspect makes can later be used against them.
For individuals in Kansas City who believe there may have been irregularities to the arresting procedure when they are facing tough charges, it is important to have an effective strategy to defend yourself and protect your legal rights.