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Aug 1
2018

Criminal Defense | Miranda Rights

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you…”

We’ve all heard this phrase in movies and television, but how do these rights actually work in the real world? If you are arrested and law enforcement officers are asking you questions, will all of your answers be evidence used against you? If you are pulled over for possibly driving under the influence, will your silence get you off free?

Let’s explore Miranda rights and how they work in Texas when you interact with law enforcement.

What Are Miranda Rights?

Miranda vs. Arizona was a Supreme Court case that looked at the conviction of Ernesto Miranda. Miranda was unaware that he could invoke his Fifth Amendment rights (“plead the fifth”) during police questioning.

His answers included the confession to a rape and kidnapping, which he was initially convicted for. The Supreme Court case overturned Miranda’s conviction.

After Miranda vs. Arizona, law enforcement must inform persons under police custody of the following rights:

  • They have the right to remain silent
  • Any answers can be used against them in a court of law
  • The person has the right to the presence of a defense lawyer during questioning
  • If the person cannot provide or afford a lawyer, a public defender will be assigned to their case

All of these rights are present at any point between an initial interaction with police and a conviction, but it is crucial for law enforcement officers to read these rights.

What Happens If You Are Not Read Your Rights in Texas?

It is mandatory for police officers to read your rights once you are taken into police custody. If you are not made aware of your rights, your answers may not be used as evidence against you in court.

However, it is important to realize that the rules surrounding Miranda rights apply only when you are in police custody. There are many steps between your initial interaction with police and a conviction.

Miranda Rights come into play after you have been arrested and are taken into police custody. Only then do police have to read you your rights. If law enforcement officers do not make an arrest, they do not have to read you your rights… but anything you say could still be used against you in court. In fact, law enforcement officials may even hold off on making an arrest just to avoid reading your Miranda rights.

If You Are Being Questioned by Texas Police

Stay informed throughout every interaction with you have with Texas law enforcement officers. If you are not sure about why you are being stopped or questioned, you have the right to ask the officer.

Ask if you are under arrest. The answers they give you can give you a better understanding of whether or not you should consent to a search, whether law enforcement officers should have read your rights, and when you may be allowed to walk away.

This is particularly important in the case of a DWI. If you have not been arrested, your answers about drinking and driving may be used against you. You also do not have to take field sobriety tests including roadside Breathalyzer tests.

Fort Worth Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have already been arrested, but law enforcement officers never mentioned your Miranda rights, it is important to talk to your lawyer and let them know. The answers you provide to officers could mean the difference between a conviction and dropped charges. If you were not read your rights, these answers may be thrown out and prosecutors will have a harder time proving that you are guilty.

 

About the Author:

Brandon Fulgham has an in-depth understanding of both Texas law and Texans themselves. Before practicing law here, he received his undergraduate degree from TCU, and his law degree from South Texas College of Law in Houston. After graduation, he worked in District Attorneys’ offices as a prosecutor, building cases designed to put people behind bars. Now, he uses that knowledge to protect the rights of people in and around Fort Worth, making sure they receive the strongest possible defense when they find themselves on the wrong side of the law. He has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, Fort Worth Magazine, and others.

 

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