Miranda Rights Criminal Defense in San Antonio, Texas.
Police officers are good listeners. They want to hear what you have to say. That’s why they tell suspects, “we just want to hear your side of the story.” This approach seems fair. What could go wrong?
The short answer is everything. If you talk to police after an arrest, then you can make a bad case worse. The main reason is your own words will hurt you at trial.
As an example, your own words can place yourself at the scene of the crime. They can connect you to other suspects. Worst of all, if you confess to the crime, then the State will likely have a slam-dunk case.
However, a suspect in this position has important rights. In particular, the Supreme Court requires police to warn suspects about talking without a lawyer before police ask any questions. These warnings are called Miranda rights. But this safeguard only goes so far.
In this post, we will describe what the Miranda rights are. When they apply. Most importantly, we will show you how to use the Miranda warnings to protect yourself from police overreach.
What are your Miranda Rights?
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court created a new rule. This rule requires police to warn suspects about talking to police before the police can ask him any questions. If police ask a suspect questions without first giving this warning, then police cannot use the suspect’s statements in court.
At the same time, if police give a suspect the warning and the suspect agrees to talk to police, then whatever he says can be used against him in court. In fact, these warnings act as a buffer between intense-police questioning and our right not to incriminate ourselves.
Moreover, Miranda protects people by giving them two important rights:
- The right to remain silent; and
- The right to have a lawyer present when police ask you questions about a crime.
This allows people to do two things. First, they can decide if they want to talk to police. And second, it allows people to stop answering questions at any time.
However, this rule only applies when two things happen. First, the suspect must be in police custody. Second, police must ask the suspect questions. Together, these two events are called “custodial interrogation.” If both of these facts are present, then police must give you the Miranda warnings before they ask you any questions.
Right to Remain Silent vs Right to a Lawyer.
As mentioned above, Miranda created two rights. They are the right to remain silent and the right to speak with a lawyer. Still, these are two separate rights. Thus, asserting one right and not the other may lead to an unexpected outcome.
As an example, if a person only chooses to remain silent, then police must stop asking him questions. At this point, the person cut off police questioning. Nonetheless, police are free to wait a couple of hours and then try and talk to him again. If during the second meeting the person confesses, then his statements can be used against him in court.
In contrast, if a person asks for a lawyer when he is being questioned by police, then police cannot ask him any more questions until the person has a lawyer present. This is a key point because it shows how these two rights are different.
In sum, these two rights are similar. They both require police to stop asking questions. But asking to remain silent only cuts off questioning for a short period of time. While asking for a lawyer stops all questioning until the person has a lawyer present. For this reason, always ask for a lawyer if you are in this position.
What is the Miranda Script?
If police conduct a custodial interrogation, then they must tell a person:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law;
- You have a right to have a lawyer present during the police questioning; and
- If you cannot afford an attorney, then an attorney will be appointed for you before any questions are asked.
In short, these warnings are critical because they protect a suspect’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
What happens if Police do read you your Miranda warnings?
If police ask a person questions while he is in custody, then they must read him his Miranda rights. If they do not read the him his rights, then the consequences are clear. Nothing he said can be used against him in a court of law. This includes the person’s incriminatory and exculpatory statements.
Can police question you without a lawyer?
Yes. Police can ask you questions without a lawyer in some cases. The most common example happens after an arrest. Police will put a suspect in an interrogation room. (Note, police call it an “interview” room). From there, police will read the suspect his Miranda rights. After that, they ask the suspect if he will agree to answer their questions without a lawyer present.
If the person says yes, then police can ask him questions about the case. Most important, if the suspect answers the questions in this situation, then prosecutors can use what he said against him in a court of law. This fact pattern happens all the time. And it is allowed.
Another example happens when a suspect is not in custody. If a person is not in custody, then police do not have to give a suspect his Miranda warnings. Also, they can ask him questions without a lawyer present.
How do I invoke my Miranda rights?
Time needed: 1 minute.
Take these steps to invoke your Miranda rights. (It takes less than 10 seconds to do.)
- Ask for a lawyer.
Tell the officer: “I want a lawyer.” If you say this, then police must stop asking you questions. But you must be clear when you speak. It’s that simple.
- Remain Silent.
After you ask for your lawyer, then stop talking. Do not say another word without speaking to your lawyer first.
Does Texas have a Miranda law?
Yes. Miranda applies to Texas state cases. Also, Texas has a law that requires police to give suspects the following warnings:
|Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 38.22||Texas Miranda Requirements|
|38.22 Sec. 2 (a) (1)||Police must warn the suspect that he has the right to remain silent and not make any statement at all and that any statement he makes may be used against him at his trial;|
|38.22 Sec. 2 (a) (2)||Any statement he makes may be used as evidence against him in court;|
|38.22 Sec. 2 (a) (3)||He has the right to have a lawyer present to advise him prior to and during any questioning;|
|38.22 Sec. 2 (a) (4)||If he is unable to employ a lawyer, he has the right to have a lawyer appointed to advise him prior to and during any questioning;|
|38.22 Sec. 2 (a) (5)||He has the right to terminate the interview at any time; and|
|38.22 Sec. 2 (b)||The accused, prior to and during the making of the statement, knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived the rights set out in the warning prescribed by Subsection (a) of this section.|
But if police want to use an oral or sign language statement, then they must record and preserve the statement for use at trial.
San Antonio Miranda Rights Criminal Defense.
Miranda protects our Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. It recognizes that police questioning at the jail house puts unfair pressure on suspects to admit guilt. In other words, police questioning can be so intense that it may cause a person to admit guilt against his own will. And this is what Miranda guards against.
Above all, if police do not honor your Miranda rights, then your statements cannot be used at your trial. This applies to even serious cases like drug, gun, or human smuggling crimes. And that’s the key point of Miranda. It gives the suspect control on when or if to answer police questions.