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Know your rights—your Miranda Rights—aren’t like the movies

Your son is getting ready to head to college. With college comes adventure. There will be lots of learning and a little fun. As he gets ready to start this new journey, the two of you may want to give this whole Miranda rights thing another look.

Is what the two of you have seen in the movies really how it goes? Probably not.

  • Police only need to mirandize a suspect if they plan on interrogating them. So, when you see the cops in movies automatically recite the rights every time; know that isn’t necessarily the case.
  • If someone isn’t mirandized, their case will be thrown out, right? You’ve seen this on several episodes of crime television. The detectives have a pile of evidence, but forget to mirandize their suspect. The lawyer uses this defense and the judge lets the suspect go based on this error. While a defense attorney should bring up this mistake and use it to the advantage of their client, it isn’t the end-all. If there is other overwhelming evidence against the suspect, the charge can stand.
  • After a suspect has been mirandized, they can refuse to answer any questions. You’ve seen this strategy countless times. The detectives on the show read the suspect their rights and then sit down in an interrogation room to talk. The suspect either says he wants his lawyer, or chats away like he has nothing to lose. While you probably want to abstain from answering questions and ask for your lawyer, you can still answer basic questions. These basic questions include giving your name and age to verify who you are.
  • A suspect doesn’t have to say that they wave their rights. This has been a grey area on cop shows. Sometimes the suspect will explicitly waive their rights, and other times they just start talking. Talking gives implied consent. As long as the Miranda warning was given, and the suspect noted that they understood, the consent is implied.

You can see that the cop shows clearly beef-up the process for added drama. With this being said, it is important that you and your family know your rights. It is always best to ask for a lawyer if arrested. When in doubt, never fully believe what you see in the movies.

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