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What are my Miranda rights?

As a Kentucky resident, you probably have seen enough TV “cop shows” to think you know the Miranda warning by heart. That is the warning that law enforcement officers must give you when they arrest you.

Per FindLaw, your first Miranda right is to remain silent when you are questioned by law enforcement officers. However, this right is not absolute. When officers ask for your identification, you are obligated to provide it. Additionally, Miranda applies only when you are in police custody and being interrogated; i.e., questioned.

Custody and interrogation

You are not in custody if you can leave anytime you wish to do so. Consequently, Miranda does not apply unless and until you are arrested. Here again, however, there are exceptions, such as traffic stops. While you cannot leave until officers conclude their traffic investigation, you are not under arrest. But if that investigation turns up outstanding warrants for your arrest, you will be arrested and the officer(s) must give you your Miranda warning before asking you any additional questions.

You must understand the Miranda warning. If you speak only Spanish or another non-English language, giving you your Miranda warning in English is insufficient. Officers must make sure you understand what they are telling you and know that if you voluntarily answer their questions after having been Mirandized, you have waived; i.e., given up, your Miranda rights.

Right to an attorney

Second in importance only to your right to remain silent is your right to have an attorney with you during any and all interrogations. You can invoke this right before officers begin questioning you and/or at any time during the interrogation. Once you say you want an attorney, the officers must immediately stop talking with you. If you cannot afford an attorney, the officers must make arrangements for you to be represented by an attorney for no charge. This usually means that a Public Defender will be appointed to represent you.

Voluntary information

If you choose to talk with officers despite having been told that you have the right to remain silent, whatever you tell them can be used as evidence against you in court. Your Miranda rights to remain silent and to have legal representation are your most basic rights anytime you are arrested. This information is provided for educational purposes and should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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