A critical part of being an American is understanding your constitutional rights — such as your 5th and 6th Amendment rights, otherwise known as the Miranda Warning in Texas — and ensuring that those rights are respected by law enforcement. Unfortunately, the latter doesn’t always happen, but in such cases, these errors may just be your ticket out of any legal charges.
In this article, lawyer-scientist and Triple Board Certified criminal defense attorney Mark Thiessen will walk you through your Miranda Rights, as well as what to do if the Miranda Warning is not given.
What are Miranda Rights?
The Miranda Rights refer to the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution that guarantees your right to a grand jury, forbids you from being tried twice for the same crime, and protects you from making incriminating statements against yourself. It also includes the 6th Amendment of the United States Constitution that grants you the right to an attorney.
The official Miranda Warning should be read to you before you are taken into custody for interrogation.
If you’ve ever heard the term “I plead the fifth,” these are the rights that phrase is referring to. So, exactly what does “I plead the fifth” mean? Pleading the 5th Amendment essentially means that you are invoking your right to remain silent, and can be used from the initial interaction with law enforcement all the way through formal questioning.
Simply put, in the example of being pulled over for a DWI in Texas, you can (and should) invoke your right to remain silent from the moment the police officer asks you if you’ve been drinking, before you’ve even been read the Miranda Warning.
When are Miranda Rights not required?
Cops in Texas do not have to read you the Miranda Rights before they arrest you, or even when they are questioning you immediately after a stop based on reasonable suspicion. However, the Miranda Warning, by law, is required to be read to you before taking you into custody for formal interrogation.
Five other exceptions to the Miranda requirement include:
- Public safety issues
- Standard booking questions
- Traffic stops/violations
- Statements obtained through a jailhouse informant
- Questioning of anyone not in police custody
This means that if you were pulled over for swerving, a police officer does not need to read you the Miranda Warning before asking if you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. So, if you answered yes and admitted to drinking and driving, this statement can be used against you in court, despite not being read your rights before being questioned.
What is required in the Miranda warning?
Again, the Miranda Rights were put in place to protect you from making self-incriminating statements during an interrogation, giving you the right to avoid answering questions or to wait until your attorney can be in attendance.
The Miranda Warning in Texas can be separated into four parts:
- You have the right to remain silent: your silence cannot be used against you in court, although remaining silent does not mean that your charges will be dismissed or that you can skip the trial.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law: should you choose to answer questions and make self-incriminating statements, anything you say is fair game to use in court against you.
- You have the right to have an attorney present: interrogation must be stopped if you have requested to have your attorney present during the questioning.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you: you have the right to request an attorney without charge.
What happens if Miranda Warnings are not given?
If you were not read the Miranda Warning before being questioned and there is not a valid waiver of these rights, any statements or confessions you made during the interrogation are deemed as “involuntary” and cannot be used against you. This is also true of any evidence collected on account of those statements or confessions.
In rare cases, your lawyer can use this as a defense to beat your DWI case or to win you a “not guilty” verdict on another charge.
Recently arrested? Remain silent until you have a criminal defense attorney from Thiessen Law Firm on your side.
If you’ve recently been arrested and are facing charges, invoke the rights promised to you by the Miranda Warning in Texas, and remain silent until you have had a chance to speak with your attorney. Awareness of any rights police don’t want you to know, like your right to remain silent, can stop you from making any incriminating statements against yourself — but it usually isn’t enough to get you out of a criminal charge. For that, you need the right lawyer.
Mark Thiessen from Thiessen Law Firm is Triple Board Certified in Criminal Law, DUI Defense, and DUI Law. As a top 100 Houston lawyer, he is ready to aggressively fight for your rights all the way to trial.
Give Thiessen Law Firm a call at 713-864-9000 or fill out our online form today to get started.
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