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A closer look at your Miranda rights

Coined the “Miranda rights” from the 1966 Supreme Court Case, nearly everyone has heard the rights that the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides them.

However, hearing these rights and understanding them are two entirely different things. These rights are critical for anyone facing a criminal charge. So, here is a closer look at the Miranda rights and how they actually work.

What are your Miranda rights?

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution gives individuals the right to:

  • Remain silent to avoid incriminating themselves
  • Have an attorney present during questioning or trial
  • Not be tried more than once for the same offense

Kentuckians have probably heard many characters on crime dramas read individuals their Miranda rights when they arrest them. But these scenes are not always accurate.

When do police have to read you your rights?

Law enforcement officers are only required to read someone their Miranda rights if their situation meets two conditions:

  1. The individual is in police custody
  2. The police are going to question the individual

For example:

  • Police must read Miranda rights to someone arrested under suspicion of drug trafficking they are about to interrogate.
  • Police do not have to read someone their Miranda rights when they pull them over suspecting drunk driving. 

Myth: If the police do not read you your rights, the charges are dismissed

This is one of the most common misconceptions about Miranda rights. It is not true that charges against an individual are dropped because a police officer did not read them their Miranda rights. 

However, the individual’s answers are inadmissible in a trial if the police do not read someone their rights when they should. And prosecutors cannot use the individual’s statements against them.

Understanding your rights is essential

The police might not have to read individuals their Miranda rights in every situation. However, anyone facing even the risk of a criminal charge can—and should—use their rights to their advantage. 

So, even though police do not have to read someone their Miranda rights in a traffic stop, individuals still have the right to avoid incriminating themselves. Individuals might have to provide general information about themselves to police, but they do not have to answer any questions.

Remembering these rights is crucial for all Kentuckians. It can help individuals protect themselves when speaking with law enforcement, regardless of their situation.