Most people know the so-called Miranda warnings by heart just from having heard them recited in countless television police dramas and motion pictures. Unfortunately, there are equally as many people who do not understand the circumstances under which real-life police encounters with civilians require the giving of the warnings.
It has been almost 50 years since the United States Supreme Court ruled that police were required to advise an individual of his or her right to remain silent, right to be represented by counsel and the fact that incriminating statements could be used to obtain a criminal conviction. Failure to properly advise an individual could result in statements being excluded from evidence at a criminal trial.
What people in Bowling Green and elsewhere often fail to realize from listening to the Miranda warnings on their favorite television show is that the warnings are only required in custodial situations when police intend to question the person they are holding. For example, a police officer who stops a motorist for speeding does not have to give the warnings before asking the question, “Do you know how fast you were going?” The reason is that the driver was not in custody at the time.
Many Miranda issues are not as simple as the speeding motorist example. If a person is in custody and begins answering questions posed by police after waiving the Miranda rights, can that person change his or her mind by asking to speak to an attorney?
The Supreme Court has ruled that a person may invoke the right to remain silent or ask for an attorney even after agreeing to talk to the police. Once that happens, police must stop the questioning.
Someone in police custody facing allegations that could lead to being charged with a crime should not take the long-term consequences of a misdemeanor or felony conviction lightly. A Kentucky criminal defense attorney is the best source of legal advice for a person before submitting to custodial questioning by the police.