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Miranda Warnings

The Miranda warning is given by police to suspects who are in police custody and are going to be asked guilt seeking questions. Police may ask suspects in their custody biographical question such as their name, date of birth and address without reading the suspect their Miranda warnings. The Miranda warnings were mandated by the 1966 United States Supreme Court decision in the case of Miranda v. Arizona. They are a means of protecting a criminal suspect's Fifth Amendment right not to be subjected to coerced self-incrimination.

Though every U.S. jurisdiction has its own regulations regarding what, precisely, must be said to a person when they are arrested, the typical warning is as follows:

You have the right to remain silent. If you give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney and to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you at no cost. During any questioning, you may decide at any time to exercise these rights, not answer any questions or make any statements.

The courts have since ruled that the warning must be "meaningful", so it is usually required that the suspect be asked if he understands his rights. Sometimes, firm answers of "yes" are required. An arrestee's silence is not a waiver. Evidence has been ruled inadmissible because of an arrestee's poor knowledge of English and the failure of arresting officers to provide the warning in the arrestee's language.

Also because of various education levels, officers must make sure the suspect understands what the officer is saying. It may be necessary to "translate" to the suspect's level of understanding. Courts have ruled this admissible as long as the original waiver is said and the "translation" is recorded either on paper or on tape.

The right of a juvenile to remain silent without his or her parent or guardian present is provided in some jurisdictions.

Indiana and a few other states add the sentence, "We have no way of giving you a lawyer, but one will be appointed for you, if you wish, if and when you go to court." Even though this sentence can be somewhat ambiguous to some hapless laypersons — who can, and who have, interpreted it to mean that "you will not get a lawyer until you confess and are arraigned in court" — the U.S. Supreme Court has approved of it as an accurate description of the procedure in those states. Duckworth v. Eagan, 492 U.S. 195 (1989).

California, and many other states, also add the following questions:

Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?

A "yes" answer to both completes the waiver. A "no" to either invokes the right.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Miranda Warning".