If you like watching true crime films and TV, you’ve probably heard this phrase at one point, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” There’s slightly more to this, but essentially this is the Miranda warning.
The U.S. Constitution guarantees the following rights, which are essentially what is explained to people who are under arrest or police custody:
- Fifth Amendment: the right to remain silent.
- Sixth Amendment: the right to legal counsel.
Considered a constitutional right, the Miranda warning came about because of a legal case, Miranda v. Arizona. This case came about after a lawsuit in which four defendants were taken into police custody, questioned without having their Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights explained, and not allowed to speak to anyone outside of the place where they were detained.
When the case was ruled on, judges stated that a person can’t be questioned until law enforcement explains their right to remain silent, talk to an attorney, their right to be assigned an attorney if they can’t afford one, and their right to have the attorney with them while being questioned.
Thanks to the Miranda warning, things a suspect may admit not might not be admissible in court if law enforcement hasn’t explained their rights first thanks to the Exclusionary Rule, a rule that protects your Fourth Amendment rights against undue search and seizure. The Exclusionary Rule isn’t applicable in deportation hearings; however.
The Exclusionary Rule prevents law enforcement from using ill-gotten evidence using methods that violate the U.S. Constitution.
Some criticisms against the Miranda warning are that it’s not clear enough, it can be hard for people to get the lawyers they believe they are promised, and their silence can make them look more suspicious in the eyes of the law.