It’s safe to assume that everyone has heard the Miranda rights warning at least once in their life. Maybe some witnessed it in person when they or someone else got arrested, or it could be that it’s picked up from a movie where a police officer arrests the perpetrator.
The Miranda rights are recited by a police officer to inform the arrested individual of their basic rights to remain silent and obtain legal representation. It goes like this “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
Because this warning is heard over and over again, it has the tendency to lose its meaning over time. But a careful reading will reveal the essence of one of the most important phrases — “Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
“Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You”
Words have the power to help or to hurt. And in a situation where someone is arrested for a crime, what is not said can be as important as, if not more than, what is said. Notice that there is nothing in the Miranda rights warning that says something to the effect of “what you say can be used for you, to help you, or to free you.”
In a very real sense, this phrase is essentially saying that anything that the arrested individual says is used against them only.
Law Enforcement is Not Going to Help You in a Criminal Case
Looking at the Miranda rights warning from this perspective stresses the importance of remembering that law enforcement is not a friend to anyone arrested for a crime. Regardless of what tactics they use to get a confession, they are going to use the accused’s side of the story as evidence against them in a trial.
In situations like this, it’s always the accused versus the law enforcement. Hence, without a lawyer, no one should freely talk about their case to police officers.
Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
The Miranda rights warning also advises the accused of their right to remain silent. If they don’t say anything, whether at the time of the arrest or under police interrogation, nothing can be used against them. Police, as well as the State, will have no opportunity to misquote, exaggerate, or change their statements to serve as incriminating evidence in court.
Silence can never be misquoted. So a word to the wise for anybody ever arrested for an offense: be quiet, don’t say anything and exercise your right to remain silent.