Most New Jersey residents think of Miranda rights by what they see on TV shows, but that doesn’t reflect reality. If you’ve been arrested, you should know when they apply.
Understanding your Miranda rights
Miranda rights are a set of rights you have when you are arrested. Police officers are required to let a person know about their rights sometime after their arrest but before they question them. Your Miranda rights include the right to remain silent, knowing that if you say anything, it could be used against you in court, having the right to an attorney during questioning, and having one appointed if you can’t afford one.
When your Miranda warning is required
When police arrest you on suspicion of any crime, they are required by law to advise you of your Miranda rights before interrogating you. Although questioning often occurs in the interrogation room at the police precinct, police could question you anywhere, even in the back of their squad car. Regardless, if they fail to read you your Miranda warning, it’s against the law and a violation of your rights.
However, if you are not arrested and a police officer questions you, they are not legally obligated to read you your Miranda rights. At the same time, anything you say can be used in court if you are later arrested on suspicion of a crime. Often, police officers use this tactic to avoid having to read a suspect’s Miranda rights.
If you are arrested, you don’t have to answer any questions. If the police try to interrogate you, all you need to do is invoke your right to remain silent and request an attorney.
Answering questions after an arrest without a Miranda warning could make your statements inadmissible in court. The judge could end up dismissing the case.