Understanding Your Illinois Miranda Rights
Recently, the Chicago Police Department has been under scrutiny for the growing number of allegations that say police officers violate human rights in arrests and detentions.
Numerous victims have come forward saying they were unlawfully arrested, strip-searched, taken to an off-the-books interrogation building called a “black site,” never read their Miranda Rights, denied access to a lawyer, food, and other communication, interrogated for hours, and physically and psychologically abused for crimes they didn’t even commit.
All of these allegations are both surprising and alarming. Law enforcement officers should never act with such disregard for the law or for a human life. So let’s focus one aspect of these cases: the Miranda Rights. Because if you aren’t informed of your Miranda Rights, then you are denied important civil rights to protect yourself and have legal counsel.
What are Miranda Rights?
You’re probably already familiar with Miranda Rights. You may even be able to recite them yourself because you’ve heard them in so many cop movies – not to mention practically every episode of Law & Order. But let’s go over them anyway.
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”
Now let’s break down those rights.
When you are arrested – and before you are interrogated – you have to be informed of your right to remain silent. Why do we get the right to remain silent? Because the Fifth Amendment protects people from incriminating themselves. And if you happen to incriminate yourself during a police interrogation, those statements can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Since you are given this right, you need to use it.
The second half of the Miranda Rights says you have the right to an attorney. You have this right because only strong legal representation will ensure that you are protected under the Fifth Amendment and won’t incriminate yourself. The Miranda Rights also make it clear that you will be able to have legal counsel regardless of your financial situation, though court-appointed attorneys can be problematic. Hiring your own hand-picked Chicago criminal lawyer gives you the best chance at a positive outcome.
Where Did Miranda Rights Come From?
In 1963, Ernesto Miranda was arrested for the kidnapping and rape of an 18-year-old woman. Miranda was interrogated by police officers and eventually signed a confession admitting to the rape. That signed statement also said that Miranda volunteered his confession and had knowledge of his legal rights.
But he was never informed of his right to a defense attorney, his right to remain silent, or that his statements could be used against him. Miranda’s lawyer objected to the confession, saying it should be excluded, but the judge overruled the objection and Miranda was found guilty and sentenced to prison.
His lawyer appealed, but the Arizona Supreme Court agreed with the trial court’s decision. The appeal was then taken to the Supreme Court, where Miranda’s conviction was overturned because he hadn’t been informed of his rights and his confession, therefore, was inadmissible.
Following the landmark ruling in Miranda v. Arizona, police officers across the United States had to start informing anyone who was arrested or under interrogation of their given rights.
And that’s where we are today. All police officers – even those here in Chicago – need to let anyone they plan to question know about their rights and allow them to exercise those rights if they want to. If you have been the victim of a Miranda Rights violation or have been charged with any crime, contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney today.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, Murder, and drug crimes.