In several of our recent blogs posts, we've gone over the exclusionary rule and have touched on some of your rights under the Fourth Amendment. If your Fourth Amendment rights are violated by law enforcement – if police conduct a search or a seizure that is “unreasonable” – then any evidence that they find cannot be presented in court due to the exclusionary rule. However, the exclusionary rule does not just apply to the Fourth Amendment: It applies to other constitutional rights, too. Among these other rights is your right to an attorney, which is guaranteed by both the Fifth and the Sixth Amendments, and your right against compelled self-incrimination, also under the Fifth Amendment.
Importantly, your right against compelled self-incrimination is not just something for the courtroom. It can surface during your first interaction with a police officer: You must be given a Miranda warning once you've been put in custody and interrogated.
What is a Miranda Warning?
A Miranda warning is a statement about your constitutional rights. When you get arrested for a crime in the United States, several of these rights get triggered to prevent the government from overstepping its boundaries.
Unfortunately, many Americans are unaware of their rights. Therefore, if you get arrested, then the law enforcement officers conducting the arrest are required to inform you of your rights. This is the Miranda warning.
Your Right to Remain Silent
A Miranda warning includes a statement of your constitutional right against self-incrimination.
This is your right to remain silent, an important part of your freedom from compelled self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment – the same right that you see people invoke when they “plead the Fifth” in the courtroom or in another kind of interrogation. Because anything that you say during an arrest or a subsequent interrogation can be used against you in trial, the Miranda warning reminds you that you can always choose not to say anything.
The Exclusionary Rule Plays a Part in Miranda Warnings
Police and other law enforcement are required to inform you of your constitutional rights through a Miranda warning. If they don't adequately “Mirandize” you, and your answers to their questions reveal important information that they can then use to incriminate you or someone else, then constitutional rights have been violated.
Just like for violations of the Fourth Amendment, violations of your Fifth Amendment rights can lead to whatever evidence is found being prevented from being heard in court by the exclusionary rule.
Criminal Defense Attorney William T. Bly
If you have been charged with a crime in the state of Maine, and you don't think that you were given your Miranda warning, then some of the evidence in the prosecutor's case might not be allowed into court. Contact the law office of criminal defense attorney William T. Bly to start planning your defense online or at (207) 571-8146.