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By Bryan J. Hutchinson

Criminal Law Attorney Bronx | Miranda Rights Facts

When you have been accused of a crime, it's important to know your rights. As a criminal law attorney in Bronx, NY I protect the rights of my clients and provide the best criminal defense.

What are my Miranda rights?

In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966), the Court applied the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in the context of custodial interrogation. After you are arrested the police must warn you that you have the right to remain silent, that any statements you makes can be used against you in court, that you has the right to consult with counsel, and that if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you prior to questioning. If the police fail to provide the Miranda warnings or a fully effective equivalent, any statements obtained from the suspect are in admissible in the government's case in chief. See Dickerson v. United States, 530 US 428, 443-444 (2000).

Under the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” U.S. Const. amend. V. The police may use your confession without violating your Fifth Amendment right only when the decision to confess is your free choice.” See United States v. Anderson, 929 F2d 96, 98 (2d Cir. 1991). “[T]o reduce the risk of a coerced confession and to implement the Self-Incrimination Clause, th[e] Court in Miranda concluded that the accused must be adequately and effectively apprised of his rights and the exercise of those rights must be fully honored.” See Missouri v. Seibert, 124 S.Ct. 2601, 2608 (2004). “Miranda conditioned the admissibility at trial of any custodial confession on warning a suspect of his rights: failure to give the prescribed warnings and obtain a waiver of rights before custodial questioning generally requires exclusion of any statements obtained.” Id. “Conversely, giving the warnings and getting a waiver has generally produced a virtual ticket of admissibility.” Id. “[C]ases in which a defendant can make a colorable argument that a self-incriminating statement was ‘compelled’ despite the fact that the law enforcement authorities adhered to the dictates of Miranda are rare.” See Berkemer v. McCarty, 468 US 420, 433 n.20 (1984).

What is considered a waiver of my Miranda Rights?

After you are arrested the police must warn you that you have the right to remain silent, that any statements you makes can be used against you in court, that you has the right to consult with counsel, and that if he cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you prior to questioning. If the police fail to provide the Miranda warnings or a fully effective equivalent, any statements obtained from the suspect are in admissible in the government's case in chief. See Dickerson v. United States, 530 US 428, 443-444 (2000).

The police may later re-approach you are provide you with fresh warnings, and attempt to persuade you to cooperate. If you invoke your right to counsel – “I do not wish to speak with you without an attorney”, then the police must cease questioning your until counsel has been made available to you unless you initiate further contact with the police.

A waiver of your Miranda rights must be knowing and voluntary. “A voluntary relinquishment of a right occurs when the relinquishment is the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception.” See United States v. Male Juvenile, 121 F3d 34, 41 (2d Cir. 1997). The courts have held that the police officers’ state of mind is irrelevant to the question of voluntariness. See Moran v. Burbine, 475 US 412, 423 (1986). “The police are allowed to play on your ignorance, anxieties, fears, and uncertainties. The law does not allow them to magnify those fears, uncertainties, and so forth to the point where rational decision becomes impossible. See United States v. Rutledge, 900 F.2d 1127, 1130 (7th Cir.1990). The court must look to the totality of the circumstances to determine whether a defendant was given the chance to “deliberately waive his rights.” See Male Juvenile, 121 F.3d at 41. The government is required to prove you waived your Miranda rights by a preponderance of the evidence. In the case of Make Juvenile the court stated that “To prove a valid waiver, the government must show:

(1) that the relinquishment of the defendant’s rights was voluntary, and


(2) that the defendant had a full awareness of the right being waived and of the consequences of waiving that right.

What if I remain silent during interrogation?

Your Miranda right to counsel must be invoked “unambiguously.” See Davis v. United States, 512 U. S. 452. You must not be ambiguous about invoking your Miranda rights. If you make an “ambiguous or equivocal” statement or no statement, the police are not required to end the interrogation, or ask questions to clarify your intent. You must tell the police that you want to remain silent or that you do not wish to speak to them without the presence of an attorney. You must them shut your mouth. If you later open your mouth and start talking then the court may say that you waived your right to remain silent when you “knowingly and voluntarily” made a statement to police.

What happens to my Miranda rights if the police use intimidation, coercion or deception to make me talk?

A waiver must be “the product of a free and deliberate choice rather than intimidation, coercion, or deception” and “made with a full awareness of both the nature of the right being abandoned and the consequences of the decision to abandon it.” See Moran v. Burbine, 475 U. S. 412, 421.

What happens if the police failed to give the Miranda warning and I voluntarily make a statement?

The purpose of the Miranda warning is to protect against admitting coerced statements at trial. The US Supreme Court has held that "[i]t does not follow from Miranda that evidence inadmissible against an accused in the prosecution's case in chief is barred for all purposes." See Harris v. New York, 401 U.S. 222, 224 (1971).

In the Harris case the court held that unwarned confessions obtained in custodial interrogation were admissible to impeach a defendant's testimony. The absence of warnings, the Court held, did not taint the statement's use for impeachment provided that “the trustworthiness of the evidence satisfies legal standards.” See Harris, 401 U.S. at 224);

Similarly in New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649 (1984), the Court made an exception to Miranda's general bar on the use of unwarned statements in the government's case in chief. The court in Quarles held that voluntary unwarned statements made by a defendant during custodial interrogation, but obtained in order to protect the public safety, were admissible in trial against the defendant.

Neither the impeachment rule nor the public safety rule can be reconciled with the position that Miranda means that unwarned statements made in custodial interrogation are inherently "compelled" under the Fifth Amendment.

Consequently, you must be aware that statements that are the product of government compulsion are not admissible for all purposes in a criminal trial. However, as Harris and Quarles case points out, if you make voluntary statements made not in conformity with the Miranda procedures during custodial interrogation are under certain circumstances your statements may be admissible against you at trial.


When you have been accused of a crime, contact Bryan J. Hutchinson, your Bronx criminal law attorney and police misconduct attorney. To get started on your criminal defense and protect your rights, contact the Law Office of Bryan J. Hutchinson at (718) 671-0900

Criminal Lawyer Bronx Bryan J. Hutchinson (718) 671-0900