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What are Miranda rights?

Anyone who has ever watched a movie or TV show involving an arrest is probably familiar with Miranda rights. Also referred to as being "Mirandized," being read your Miranda rights is to inform you that you have the right to refuse to answer officers' questions during an interrogation. You can also choose to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to have an attorney present during questioning to help advise you on what -- if anything -- to answer.

It's important to remember that if you waive your right to an attorney or your right to remain silent that anything you say can be held against you later on if your case goes to trial. Furthermore, failing to ask for an attorney and then answering the officer's questions can be considered implied waiver of your Miranda rights.

Generally, the best thing to do when you are taken into police custody for questioning concerning a crime is to clearly state that you want an attorney and then remain silent until the attorney is present. At that time, your counsel can help you better understand the situation, whether you are being charged with a crime and the next steps.

It's also very important to let your attorney know as soon as possible if you were questioned by police before you were read your Miranda rights. In these cases, anything that you said, whether it was incriminating or not, is likely to be thrown out since it is assumed that you were not fully aware of the possible repercussions of making any statements without an attorney present.

Source: FindLaw, "Waiving Miranda Rights," accessed June 22, 2015

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