Virginia DUI/DWI Miranda Warning
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of low. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?”
History Of The Miranda Warning
Most people have heard these rights read to a suspect on one of the many television shows about criminal law. In the legal world, these rights are collectively referred to as Miranda rights because they were established by the United States Supreme Court in a case known as Miranda v. Arizona. In 1966, this country’s highest court ruled that before police can question a suspect, they must advise the suspect of his constitutional right to remain silent as well as his constitutional right to the assistance of an attorney.
What happens if the police fail to advise you of your Miranda rights? The police are not required to advise you of your Miranda rights. But if you are in “custody” and you are being “interrogated” by a law enforcement officer, AND that officer intends to use statements you say to him into evidence against you, he must first advise you of your Miranda rights. If he fails to do so, then any statement you make to him while in custody can generally be excluded from evidence. Additionally, if you make a statement that leads the officer to discover additional evidence against you, that evidence can also be excluded from court. This derivative evidence is what is known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
Knowing And Exercising Your Rights
What happens if I voluntarily make a statement to the police without being advised of my Miranda rights? If you’ve been arrested, your right to remain silent is equally as important as your right to effective assistance of counsel. The police are only encouraged to advise you of your Miranda rights if they plan to question you. However, Miranda does not protect you from anything you might utter voluntarily. For example, as the officer approaches your stopped vehicle, and you feel the urge to tell him, “I only had three beers!”, your Miranda rights may not prevent this statement from being used as evidence against you. You weren’t in “custody” necessarily and you weren’t being questioned by the police; rather, you made this statement voluntarily.