Post Arrest Questioning

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to avoid making self-incriminating statements. In a ruling for the case of Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme court ruled that suspects should be advised of their Fifth Amendment rights. Thus, the Miranda Warning was created.

If you are arrested by police, you must be informed of your Miranda Rights regarding being interrogated or questioned. However, if the police do not intend to use your answers as evidence at trial, they do not have to read your Miranda Rights. This means that an officer may ask you your name or other questions without informing you of your rights.

Similarly, the officer may ask questions without reading the Miranda Warning if he or she believes others are in immediate danger. For example, the officer may ask if you are armed. Your answer to this question may be used at trial.

The Miranda Warning protects your right to remain silent during post-arrest questioning as well as your right to an attorney. If you choose to answer questions without a lawyer present, you waive your Fifth Amendment rights; however, should change your mind about answering questions or have lawyer with you, you are free to do so.

Statements that you make unintentionally before being Mirandized are not technically supposed to be used against you at trial, but the law has many exceptions that may make the evidence admissible in court. Therefore, you shouldn’t count on your statement being suppressed if you gave it freely.

Defense lawyers would prefer that their potential client takes advantage of his or her right to remain silent. It is easier to defend a client who has not made self-incriminating remarks or confessed to the crime.

If the police unlawfully find evidence against you and have not informed you of your Miranda Rights within a timely fashion, the “fruit of the poisonous tree” rule will apply and make the evidence inadmissible in court. However, if the police can prove they would have found the evidence without your assistance, they are able to use that evidence at court.