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Miranda rights guide

The definitive guide to Miranda rights in Florida

Miranda rights are perhaps one of the most misunderstood rights in criminal law. While we have all heard the rights read on television, they are not always read correctly. That alone may be a basis to get the statements thrown out. Many times the cops do not read Miranda rights to defendants. Also, many people think that they can get their case “thrown out” because the “cops didn't give me my Miranda rights.” Cops don't “give” rights. The constitution and the court's interpretation of those rights do. If the cops don't read (or correctly state) Miranda rights and you make incriminating statements, those statements could be suppressed (thrown out of court).  This Miranda rights guide is by West Palm Beach, Florida criminal lawyer Grey Tesh.  Grey has  successfully argued Miranda rights issues before the Florida Supreme Court on a first degree murder case.  The Florida Supreme Court opinion is here.

What are Miranda rights?

Does an officer have to read me my Miranda rights?

The police didn't read me my Miranda rights, can I get the case thrown out of court?

How do Miranda rights protect people?

Specific examples of ways to win a case based on a Miranda violation in Florida.

After a police officer informs me of my right to remain silent and my right to have a lawyer, is it a mistake for me to talk to police?

Do I have to answer questions from police officers?

Let’s say, it’s too late. Before learning about the importance of using my Miranda rights, I was arrested by police, and I talked to them and answered their questions. Should I conclude all is lost?

The Officer told me I would get a better deal if I talked...is this true?

What happens if (1) the police say they informed you of your Miranda rights (2) you remember clearly that the police did not do so, and (3) there are no other witnesses?

When does a failure by police to inform a person or his Miranda rights result in the case being dropped by the Government, or being thrown out by the judge?

If the police stop me, and I tell police I want to remain silent, can the Government, or a witness for the Government, later tell a judge, or jury, that my decision to remain silent shows I am guilty?

What happens if the police just ask me if I want to talk to them?

Why shouldn’t the jury be allowed to know if a person was silent, whether before arrest, at the time of the arrest, or thereafter?

Why is your criminal lawyer’s knowledge of Miranda rights under Florida law important?

Why, as Americans, do we have the right to remain silent?

What does it mean to “invoke” one’s Miranda rights?

What does it mean to “incriminate” oneself?

What does it mean for evidence to be “suppressed”?

What is the Fifth Amendment?

What is the Fourteenth Amendment?

What is the Constitution?

What is the Bill of Rights?

 

 

What are Miranda Rights?

In 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled that, if the police stop a person from going about his business, before the officers ask questions or say things that might cause the person to say something negative about himself, the police must inform the person that he or she has “the right to remain silent.”

That is to say, when a person is stopped by a police officer, the law in the United States does not require a person to say anything at all.

The Supreme Court issued this ruling in a case named Miranda versus Arizona. The name of the person accused in that case was Ernesto Miranda, and he had been prosecuted by the State of Arizona.

And that is why the right to remain silent, and related rights, are known as “Miranda rights.”

You may know from television or movies that Miranda rights go, more or less, as follows:

You have the right to remain silent.

If you give up your right to remain silent, anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law.

You have the right to have an attorney present.

If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.

The law does not require that the officer read or tell you about these rights in these exact words.

But the officer must still inform you of each of these rights in a way that is clear, accurate, and understandable.

And before asking you any questions, he must obtain a clear indication from you that you understand these rights.

Does an Officer have to read me my Miranda Rights?

No. The police don’t ever have to read Miranda to you. The only time the police should is if you are in custody (not free to leave) and they’re interrogating you (asking you questions designed to illicit an incriminating response). If they don’t, and those circumstances are present, then any statements you make should be thrown out of court. That’s the remedy – suppression of your statements.

The police didn’t read me my Miranda Rights. Can I get my case thrown out of court?

What happens if the police forget to inform a person of his Miranda rights?

That’s a good question.

And the answer is: It depends on the circumstances.

In Florida, the law requires that, before police can legally stop a person on the street, or driving along the highway, the police must have what the law calls a “reasonable suspicion” that the person is involved in criminal activity (which can include something as simple as violating a traffic law).

It is not enough that the police have a feeling, a hunch, or a guess that a person is involved in criminal activity; to the contrary, the officer must be able to describe the basis of his suspicion in clear, understandable language.

Now, if the police stop a person with reasonable suspicion that the person is involved in criminal activity, then before asking the person questions, and before saying things that might lead the person to give negative or damaging information about himself, the police must inform the person of his Miranda rights.

And what are your Miranda rights:

You have the right to remain silent. If you give up your right to remain silent, anything you say, can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.

If the police stop a person, and then ask him potentially damaging questions without first informing him of his Miranda rights, then the result is very dramatic: any information the person provided that is negative or damaging about himself cannot be admitted against the person in a court of law.

In addition, and this is important, any information provided by the person that leads to additional negative or damaging evidence also cannot be used against the person in a court of law.

How do Miranda rights protect people?

Specifically, (1) the right to remain silent, and (2) the right to have a lawyer present before answering any questions, are rights that protect people from any inclination the police might have to use threats, beatings, or any other infliction of suffering, in the attempt to force people, including innocent people, from confessing to crimes.

Police officers know that failing to inform a person of his or her Miranda rights may have the disastrous effect of nullifying the basis for any criminal charges they seek to lodge against that person.

In other words, Miranda rights, properly observed by police, serve as a kind of restraint upon law enforcement officers, discouraging them from trying to use force or deception in order to obtain confessions, or other damaging information, from those whom they arrest.

Let’s look at a couple of specific examples of ways to win a case based on a Miranda violation in Florida.

Example 1: Mr. Smith robs a bank.

Mr. Smith robs a bank and then is stopped by police a couple of miles away because he fits the description of the robber. After stopping him, the police ask Mr. Smith if he robbed the bank, and he says, “yes I did.”

In that case, even though Mr. Smith robbed the bank, and he confessed to the crime, the government cannot use the confession against him because police failed to inform him, before asking him the question whether he robbed the bank, that he had the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer present before answering any questions.

While it may seem odd that the bank robber should be protected even though he is guilty, in fact, the law is an excellent one because every day, the same law protects every person in Florida, and all of the United States, who might be stopped by the police.

Example 2: Mr. Smith has some marijuana.

Let’s look at another, but different example: Mr. Smith is driving down the street, and is stopped by police because, tracing the license plate of the car, police discover Mr. Smith’s driver’s license was suspended for failing to pay an old traffic ticket.

After giving Mr. Smith the ticket, but before allowing him to go on his way, the police ask Mr. Smith if he has any marijuana in his car. Afraid of being caught, and hoping that cooperation with police will make things easier for himself, Mr. Smith tells police he has marijuana, and even tells them it’s located under the front passenger seat.

Mr. Smith is sure to be convicted; he doesn’t have a prayer. Right?

Wrong.

In this example, police failed to inform Mr. Smith of his right to remain silent, BEFORE asking Mr. Smith questions about whether he had marijuana.

As a consequence, the court must rule that (1) Mr. Smith’s statement that he had marijuana, and (2) the marijuana itself, cannot be used in any criminal prosecution of Mr. Smith for possession of that marijuana.

It doesn’t matter if the amount of marijuana was the last remains of a joint, or an entire carful of weed; because police failed to inform Mr. Smith, before they questioned him, of his right to remain silent and his right to have a lawyer, Mr. Smith’s confession, and the marijuana can never be introduced in a criminal case against him. 

After a police officer informs me of my right to remain silent and my right to have a lawyer, is it a mistake for me to talk to police?

Your Miranda rights guarantee you the right to remain silent, and further informs you that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

For this reason, until you have carefully consulted with a lawyer, you should NEVER talk to police.

Police officers, federal prosecutors, and state prosecutors like most people, want to show their supervisors and co-workers that they are doing a good job. Moreover, it is only natural that these agents of the government want professional recognition, and that they wish to win advancement, promotions, and bonuses for themselves.

For this reason, police and prosecutors want, above all else, arrests that lead to convictions.

As you might imagine, it is rare that a police chief congratulates, or promotes, a police officer for going easy on the person the officer arrests. To the contrary, the more serious the charges leveled at a person, the more the arresting officer is seen as having done a job worthy of recognition.

No matter how appealing it may seem to you to talk to police, no matter what police say to you that might make you think you should talk to them, every competent criminal defense lawyer will tell you that you should not talk to police until you talk to an attorney first.

Also, you should definitely keep in mind this important rule of law: even if you decide to talk to police, you can, at any time during the conversation, and in response to any question, change your mind and tell the officer you wish to be silent. In legal terms this is described as “invoking” your right to remain silent after having waived it. 

Do I have to Answer Questions from Police Officers?

No. Always ask for a lawyer before talking with police. Never volunteer any information even if you are innocent. There are many innocent people in prison. Some of them have been released after serving years in prison because DNA evidence exonerated them.

Let’s say, it’s too late. Before learning about the importance of using my Miranda rights, I was arrested by police, and I talked to them and answered their questions. Should I conclude all is lost?

The answer is no.

You should not automatically draw this conclusion because the police, as they often do, may have committed some serious errors in the way that they questioned you.

Serious Police Error #1

The police forgot to inform you of your Miranda rights.

According to the law, if the police forget to inform you of your Miranda rights before questioning you, none of the information you provided can be used against you.

Serious Police Error #2

The police informed you of your Miranda rights in a way that was incomplete.

Often when a police officer informs a person of his Miranda rights, the officer reads them off of a printed card. But the officer can recite them from memory as well.

While the wording of the Miranda warning does not need to be exact, and requires no specific or special form, the information about your Miranda rights, when given, must be complete.

So, for example, let’s say an officer, suspecting a person of committing a crime, stops that person and tells him he has the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer. But then the officer forgets to tell the person, who happens to be poor, that if he can’t afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for him.

In such a case, the officer’s Miranda warning is not a valid or lawful one. Therefore, the judge will be required to exclude from the criminal case any and all damaging information the person gave to the officer after police gave him that incomplete warning.

Serious Police Error #3

The police informed you of your Miranda rights in a way that was not accurate.

When telling you about your Miranda rights, police cannot, whether intentionally or accidentally, add to, or subtract from, the rights in a way that alters, distorts, or otherwise changes them.

For example, an officer cannot tell you that, in his opinion, you shouldn’t attach too much importance to your Miranda rights, or that by talking to police, your case will go better.

In making such statements, the police themselves are violating the law, and any statements you make to police under such circumstances must be disqualified by the judge and excluded from the case.

Serious Police Error #4

The police informed you of your Miranda rights in a way that was not understandable.

If a person does not speak English, an officer’s recitation of the Miranda rights is meaningless. While the officer may have read the person the Miranda rights fully and accurately, such a warning cannot serve its intended purpose if the person didn’t understand English.

Similarly, if the police stop or arrest a juvenile, or a person who is of low intelligence, or a person who is hard of hearing, police must inform the person of his Miranda rights in a way that the person can understand.

Failure by the police to do so renders the Miranda warning ineffective, and may require the judge in the person’s case to exclude any negative or damaging information given by the person.

Serious Police Error #5

The police inform you of your Miranda rights, but fail to obtain an indication

from you that you understood the information.

After informing you of your Miranda rights, police are required by the law to obtain a clear indication from you that you understand them before proceeding to question you.

In other words, if after having been informed about your Miranda rights, you choose to talk to police, that decision (what the law calls a “waiver” of your rights) must be a knowing, intelligent, and voluntary decision. That is to say, a person’s decision NOT to remain silent must be a free and deliberate choice, and not result from police intimidation, coercion, or deception.

If the police inform a person of his Miranda rights, and in response, the person is silent, the police are also prohibited from interpreting that silence as consent to begin questioning the person.

According to the law, after a person is stopped, detained, or placed in custody, and after police inform the person of his or her Miranda rights, the person’s decision to talk to police, if the decision was not knowing, intelligent, and voluntary, is considered not voluntary and not acceptable by the law.

Now, whether or not a person’s decision to talk was really knowing, intelligent, and voluntary is often difficult to determine. The law requires a judge to answer this question by looking at all of the circumstances of the person’s encounter with police, and listening to legal argument between the lawyer for the person accused, and the lawyer for the government.

Therefore, it is critically important for you to work with your lawyer so that he or she can first, thoroughly collect all of the relevant facts, and then, applying the relevant law, present those facts effectively to the judge. 

The Officer told me I would get a better deal if I talked...is this true?

No, not necessarily. The officer is not the one who charges people with crimes. It is the State Attorney’s office or the United States Attorney’s Office. The officer doesn’t sentence defendants either, that’s the province of the trial judge. Police lie to defendants all the time to get confessions and guess what?  It is legal for cops to lie.

What happens if (1) the police say they informed you of your Miranda rights (2) you remember clearly that the police did not do so, and (3) there are no other witnesses?

The answer is: it depends on the circumstances.

As you might imagine, in court, when hearing conflicting statements from police and from a person accused of a crime, judges almost always believe the police. This is very unfair because, contrary to arguments by the Government, police officers sometimes do indeed have a motive to lie.

One reason an officer might lie about having forgotten to inform a person of his right to remain silent is that admitting to such a mistake could cause him to lose his job.

Another reason is that human beings instinctively do not like to admit they have made mistakes, especially when the admission must take place formally and officially in a public place, like a courtroom.

And these reasons become even stronger if the officer has a record in his work history of having made the same, similar, or other mistakes. (Your lawyer can research the history of the officers who arrested you, usually without too much difficulty.)

Even though most judges believe the testimony of police officers over private citizens, there are several ways a lawyer can sometimes show a judge that a police officer failed to properly inform a person of his right to remain silent, or failed to obtain an indication from the person that he understood the information provided.

One way the lawyer may be able to show the officer’s error is by studying the written police reports to determine if there are any important omissions, or other statements, that point to the fact that the officer did not properly inform the person of his right to remain silent.

Another way a lawyer may be able to show an officer’s error, and this one is among the most important, is through the process, available in State court, of “deposition.” In state court, after the State has charged a person with a crime, the person’s lawyer can require the arresting officers to come to the courthouse to answer questions under oath, and in the presence of a court reporter or official recording device, about the arrest in question and the events that led up to the arrest. It is during such depositions that a lawyer, through careful and thorough questioning, may discover that the police made the serious mistake of failing, in whole or in part, to inform the person arrested of his right to remain silent, or failed to obtain an adequate indication that the person understood the information.

A third way is through cross-examination of the officer in court before a judge, at trial, or sometimes before a trial is even scheduled. By knowing the important facts and the relevant law, and by skillful questioning of the officer, the lawyer may be able to show the judge that the officer, required to answer questions under oath, failed to follow the law as it relates to Miranda rights.

When does a failure by police to inform a person or his Miranda rights result in the case being dropped by the Government, or being thrown out by the judge?

Many people who are arrested make the mistake of believing that if police did not inform them of their right to remain silent, their cases must be thrown out of court, or that they will win their case automatically.

But this is not necessarily so.

The failure by police to inform a person of his or her right to remain silent can only help a person’s case if all three of the following events take place:

(1) The police stop a person on the street, or in his car, or on a plane or boat, in such a way that the person, reasonably, does not feel free to leave.

(2) The police ask the person questions, or say things, that could cause the person to provide negative or damaging information about himself in a possible criminal case.

(3) Before questioning the person or saying things that might cause the person to provide negative or damaging information against himself, the police

(A) fail to inform the person of his Miranda rights; OR

(B) inform the person of his Miranda rights improperly or incompletely; OR

(C) the police fail to obtain a clear indication from the person that he understood the information; OR

(D) the police ignore the person’s declaration that he wishes to remain silent and/or consult with a lawyer, and police continue to question him, or say things to put pressure on him to talk.

All three events, (1) through (3), must occur before the failure by police to inform a person of his Miranda rights can help the person win a criminal case being prosecuted against him.

If all three events occur, that still doesn’t mean the person’s case will automatically be thrown out of court

But if the person’s lawyer successfully shows the court that the three events occurred, the court will be obligated to rule that the damaging information the person provided, and if it also occurred, the discovery of damaging evidence as a result of the information, cannot be included in the case.

If the damaging information cannot be admitted in the case, the Government may conclude, as it often does under such circumstances, that it cannot prove the person is guilty of the crime originally charged. When that happens, the Government commonly drops the case, either by filing a document formally stating the case has been dropped, or announcing in open court that the case has been dropped.

If the police stop me, and I tell police I want to remain silent, can the Government, or a witness for the Government, later tell a judge, or jury, that my decision to remain silent shows I am guilty?

If the Government was not prohibited by the law, the Government would, in every criminal case, argue to judges and juries alike that, if a person is innocent, he or she would always want to talk to police, not hide the truth behind silence.

In fact, in federal court, the prosecutor is allowed, in front of a jury, to comment upon, and ask questions about, a person’s silence when that silence took place before the person was arrested. It does not matter if the person’s silence occurred at the time he was arrested, or after he was arrested, before he was advised of his Miranda rights, or even if the record does not indicate when the person was advised of his Miranda rights. This rule of law applies as long as the person did not, at the time of his silence, specifically state he wanted to be silent because of his right to do so (as allowed by the Fifth Amendment).

But in federal court, a person’s silence after being informed about his Miranda rights cannot be used against him, even to discredit the person’s own inconsistent testimony at trial. According to the legal language of the federal courts, principles of “due process” prohibit, under such circumstances, the use of person’s silence against him.

In state court, Florida law protects a person’s rights much more strongly than federal law. In state court in Florida, a prosecutor is not allowed to say anything, or present any evidence, that suggests a person was silent, whether (a) before being arrested, or (b) at the time he was arrested, or (c) after he was arrested, or (d) before being advised of his Miranda rights, or (e) anytime thereafter. According to the legal language of the state courts, principles of “due process” as well as the state rules of evidence prohibit, under such circumstances, the use of a person’s silence against him.

The only exception in state court, and its occurrence is rare, is when two unusual things happen: (1) a person accused of a crime decides to testify in his own defense at trial, and then (2) he says something that is inconsistent in a direct or material, significant way with his pre-arrest, pre-Miranda silence. Under such circumstances, the Government is allowed to try to discredit the person by asking him about his previous silence.

What happens if the police just ask me if I want to talk to them?

The police are free to ask people questions on the street, in their homes, or even at the police station, as long as those people freely agree to engage in such conversation. In such cases, the law considers a person’s decision to talk to police to be “voluntary.”

So if you say something to police when you are really free to go about your business, the law of Miranda rights does not protect you.

Your right to remain silent, and your right to consult with a lawyer before or during questioning only begin when the police stop you, whether directly or indirectly, from going about your business.

The law calls such action by police “a stop,” or “a detention.”

Examples of when the law considers a person stopped, or detained, by police include (1) when police tell the person to stop; (2) when police use a gesture to indicate the person should stop or approach; (3) when police follow a driver with the police car’s sirens sounding and/or emergency lights flashing; and (4) when police park a marked or unmarked car in such a way as to block a driver from moving his or her own car.

But police asking a person questions in the street, or to come down to the station to talk or make a statement, is not a stop or detention. According to the law, because the person is free to say no, or to walk away, Miranda rights do not protect him or her under such circumstances.

So the most desirable circumstances for police, that is to say, when police don’t have to worry about warning a person about his or her Miranda rights, is when a person voluntarily talks to police without having been stopped or detained. The rule to follow then is a simple one: Never talk to police until you have consulted with a lawyer.

Why shouldn’t the jury be allowed to know if a person was silent, whether before arrest, at the time of the arrest, or thereafter?

Judges of the United States Supreme Court, and of the Florida Supreme Court, have ruled that prosecutors are prohibited, (except rarely, under certain special circumstances) from saying anything that would allow a jury, directly or indirectly, to know the person on trial chose to exercise his right to remain silent.

But why is this so? Why shouldn’t the jury be allowed to know a person exercised his Miranda right to remain silent.

Judges are concerned that juries will assign too much importance to a person’s decision to remain silent, and that they may find the person guilty, not based upon the facts of the case, but upon the idea that if the person was not guilty, then he or she would not have remained silent when questioned by police.

But the law recognizes that a person’s silence in response to police questioning can mean many, many things other than guilt.

An innocent person might be silent because he is afraid, or confused, or in a state of shock, or doesn’t understand English. An innocent person might also be silent because he distrusts the police, or fears retaliation from those responsible for the crime, or because a lawyer once told him never to talk to police before consulting with the lawyer.

In fact, there are many other reasons why a person may be silent in response to police questioning other than guilt.

But fearing members of jury will wrongly jump to the conclusion that the defendant was silent because he is guilty, the United States Supreme Court and the Florida Supreme Court prohibit prosecutors from informing the jury, directly or indirectly, that, in response to police questioning, the defendant chose to exercise his right to remain silent.

Why is your criminal lawyer’s knowledge of Miranda rights under Florida law important?

It is important to keep in mind that not everyone who is arrested is guilty.

But even when a person is guilty of failing to follow the law, sometimes the police are more guilty of not following the law.

And if that happens, who do you think should win the case?

But the law is so complicated, it is often impossible for a non-lawyer to understand it without having both (1) studied the subject (an intensive three-year course of study in law school) as well as (2) having acquired actual experience representing clients and trying cases.

In fact, the language of the law, and interpretation by judges of what the law means, are to most non-lawyers incomprehensible.

One thing that is clear is that the law rarely follows the rules of logic and reason as these concepts are understood in the world outside the courtroom.

But a good lawyer is like a mixed martial artist or good boxer; he knows the rules of the game, and how to apply them to his opponent’s actions.  As a side note, I practice karate and Brazilian jiu jitsu.  It helps the mind as well as the body.

Here’s one example only that shows why your lawyer’s knowledge of the law is important:

Let’s say Mr. John Smith is driving down the street, and is stopped by police because, tracing the license plate, police discover that the driver’s license of the car’s owner, Mrs. Smith, was suspended. When stopping Mr. Smith, the police smell the odor of marijuana. Searching the car in a way that the law allows, the police discover marijuana hidden in the vehicle.

A good lawyer will know, or learn after studying the relevant law, that the officer’s stop of Mr. Smith was not a lawful one. By tracing the license plate to the car’s owner, Mrs. Smith, a woman, the police did not thereby establish a legal basis to stop Mr. John Smith, obviously a man. In other words, the police were able to see that the driver of the car was a man so that it was unreasonable for police to conclude that he was Mrs. Smith, the female owner of the car.

Moreover, the suspension of Mrs. Smith’s driver’s license had no relation to Mr. Smith driving down the street, and so police violated the law that prohibits them from stopping someone unless the person is “reasonably” suspected of involvement with criminal activity.

Based on these facts, the stop of Mr. Smith was unlawful, and therefore, the evidence the police obtained as a result of the stop, here, the marijuana, was illegally obtained. Therefore, the judge must rule, because the original stop was illegal, that the marijuana cannot be admitted into the case. As a consequence, the Government, having no other evidence against Mr. Smith, will be forced to drop the case.

But even if the license plate was traced, not to Mrs. Smith, but John Smith himself, the government would have the very difficult, perhaps almost impossible job of proving that the marijuana was John’s, and that it did not belong to someone else who had previously driven or had been a passenger in the car. Indeed, the fact that the car was owned by someone else serves to reinforce the suggestion that the marijuana could just as reasonably have belonged to someone else

If John was smart enough to invoke his right to remain silent, the police would have no evidence to prove the marijuana in the car belonged to him and not someone else. Remember, as discussed on a previous page, the state government in Florida is not allowed to use a person’s silence against the person; so the government cannot even mention the person’s silence in court before a jury, and a judge is not allowed to use the person’s silence in reaching decisions about a person’s guilt.

Why, as Americans, do we have the right to remain silent?

The United States Constitution is the document that the Founding Fathers adopted in order to define how the new government in America should operate.

Having suffered under an oppressive British government in which all of the power was unfairly concentrated in the hands of a King, the Founding Fathers of this country decided that Americans could reduce the risk of such misconduct by its own new government if they divided the power of government into three branches.

That’s why the Constitution describes the responsibilities of a trinity of governmental branches: the Executive Branch (the president), a Legislative Branch (Congress), and a Judicial Branch (the court system).

But the Founding Fathers later corrected the Constitution by adding something they called “the Bill of Rights,” a document listing very special legal rights meant specifically to protect the people against abuses that, before American’s independence, had been committed by the British government against the American colonists.

Although hard to believe, before the American colonies of Great Britain became the independent United States of America, the King of England and his agents tortured people in horrible ways to force them to confess to crimes, including such offenses as opposing the policies of the King.

And it’s just simple common sense that a person, even if innocent, is likely to confess to just about anything when tortured, or even threatened with torture.

So, when the Founding Fathers created this country, they envisioned a nation in which such torture could not take place.

The Founding Fathers envisioned a nation in which no man, in a criminal case, could be forced by the government “to be a witness against himself.” (The words in quotation marks come from the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, a document that supplements and completes the Constitution.)

In other words, it was the conscious wish of the Founding Fathers to take away from the government any power it might otherwise have to force people, under governmental pressure, to say negative or damaging things about themselves.

So the Founding Fathers adopted the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution The Fifth Amendment states that, under the government of the new United States “no person shall . . . be compelled [by an agent of agents of the government] in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

In this way, because confessions or other damaging information obtained from a person by governmental force, or even the threat of force, becomes illegal, agents of the government can gain no legal advantage by torturing people.

What does it mean to “invoke” one’s Miranda rights?

After police properly inform you of your Miranda rights, if you tell police that you do indeed wish to remain silent, (as you always absolutely should), you are “invoking” your Miranda rights.

To indicate their wish to remain silent, some people, in response to questioning, also say, “I plead the Fifth Amendment” or “I plead the Fifth.”

What does it mean to “waive” one’s Miranda rights?

After police properly inform you of your Miranda rights, if you tell police you agree to talk anyway, you are generally “waiving” your Miranda rights.

What does it mean to “incriminate” oneself?

The root of the word, “incriminate” is the word “crime.” You can see part of the word, “crim,” in the center of the word “incriminate.”

So you incriminate yourself by saying something that, directly or indirectly, suggests or indicates you have committed a crime.

Miranda rights protect a person from any action by police that might pressure a person, after being stopped, arrested, or held in custody by police, from incriminating himself.

What does it mean for evidence to be “suppressed”?

Suppressing” evidence is just a fancy word for excluding, disqualifying or prohibiting evidence. If your lawyer moves a court to suppress evidence in your case, the lawyer is asking a court to exclude the evidence because it was obtained in violation of the Constitution.

For example, if the police stopped you and, without informing you of your Miranda rights, questioned you about, and obtained, damaging information about you, that evidence should be “suppressed,” excluded from your case.

What is the Fifth Amendment?

The Fifth Amendment is one of the laws that is listed in the Bill of Rights, a document that the Founding Fathers adopted to supplement, or more specifically, to amend the Constitution.. Among the things the Fifth Amendment says is that, “no person shall . . . be compelled [by an agent of agents of the federal government] in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”

What is the Fourteenth Amendment?

The Fourteenth Amendment is also one of the laws listed in the Bill of Rights. The rights included in the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee, among other things, that the laws of the states, including Florida, cannot nullify any of the laws of the federal government. In other words, the Fourteenth Amendment says the Fifth Amendment restricts not only agents of the federal government, but also agents of all fifty state governments. So agents of the state of Florida are prohibited by the Fourteenth Amendment from compelling a person, in a criminal case, to be a witness against himself.

What is the Constitution?

The Constitution is the document created and adopted by the Founding Fathers of the United States that describes how American government is constructed, specifically with three separate branches, the Executive Branch (the president, his ministers, and agents), the Legislative Branch (Senators and Representatives), and the Judicial Branch (judges and the court system).

What is the Bill of Rights?

The Founding Fathers recognized that, when they adopted the Constitution, it was incomplete because it did not provide crucial rights that we, the people, must have if we are to live freely, and not be oppressed by the government. So after establishing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers later adopted the Bill of Rights, a list of rights that belong to the people of the United States, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, and as interpreted in the Miranda case, the rights, when stopped and questioned by police, to be silent and to consult with a lawyer.

-Grey

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"Law is not black or white, it's Grey"

Board certified criminal trial lawyer Grey Tesh has argued Miranda rights issues before the Florida Supreme Court.  He has helped his clients by filing motions to suppress for Miranda violations to get their cases thrown out.  Grey handles criminal and injury cases all across Florida.  A trial lawyer based out of West Palm Beach, Grey can represent people with Miranda rights issues in Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, Florida and all across the United States for federal criminal Miranda rights cases.