The chances that you have heard a version of the Miranda Rights are high. You do not have to be a crime suspect to have heard it, thanks in part to criminal TV shows and their ubiquitous Miranda warnings read aloud by police officers to criminal defendants as at the time of the arrest. The Miranda Rights starts with the famous “You have the right to remain silent…” Judging by the popularity of the statute, it would appear that most people understand what the Miranda rights actually protect. Wrong.
The plain meaning of the Miranda Rights sometimes gets lost. The various ways that law enforcement word Miranda warnings around the country often compound the loss in meaning.
Protection Offered by the Miranda Rights
By law, a law enforcement officer should read the Miranda rights to the suspect at the time of his or her arrest. The major benefits include:
- That it is not a must to speak to the police
- That you are permitted to have an attorney advocate on your behalf at all times of the police interrogation—before, during, and after
A defendant may should to uphold these rights or waive them, as both options are available during the readout. In general, in the event that the defendant chooses to waive his or her Miranda rights, and in so doing speaks directly to officers in the absence of an attorney, then under the law, such correspondence is not coerced or involuntary.
Miranda Rights and Juveniles
Law enforcement officers also read out Miranda rights to juveniles if they are suspects. The issue is that juveniles often do not fully understand the rights read out to them, or worse, the implication of waiving their Miranda rights. Alarmingly, the rate of waivers among juveniles is as high as 90 percent.
This begs the question, “What could be the reason(s) for the absurdly high rate of Miranda Rights waiving?”
One reason is comprehension. As at 2014, the Harvard Medical School and others identified 371 variations of wording of Miranda rights. Of this number, a whopping 52 percent required at least an eight-grade reading level for proper understanding. Comprehension becomes more difficult courtesy of the added stress that plagues juveniles under arrest. Estimates state that comprehension suffers by at least 20 percent.
Another reason is the limited memory of all the rights included in Miranda. Taking full advantage of one’s Miranda Rights goes beyond understanding the verbiage. It is equally, if not more, important to remember all of the rights later on after the arrest and during the interrogation.
Waiving of Miranda Rights by Juveniles
Hot on the heels of these shocking stats are cases relating to the waiving of Miranda rights by juveniles. On one hand are cases that dispute whether a juvenile actually waived his or her Miranda rights. On the other hand are cases that dispute whether the Miranda rights were stated in a way to make the juvenile understand what rights were protected.
Currently, a number of states are considering adopting a revised Miranda standard. This Miranda standard would address many of the concerns regarding Miranda rights and juveniles. Proposed processes that would address these concerns include:
- The provision of an easier-to-understand version of Miranda specifically for juveniles
- Stipulating a minimum age requirement, such that juveniles below the limit would be legally unable to:
- waive their Miranda rights
- make a confession
- or even speak to a police officer; in the absence of a parent or guardian
What Amounts to Admissible Juvenile Confession in Florida
Before juvenile confession is admissible in Florida, the following factors are used to examine the confession:
- How the police administered the Miranda rights, in addition to whether the police used any tricks or tactics during the reading
- The background, past experience, mental ability, and age of the juvenile
- Whether a parent or an attorney was present at the time of the confession
- The location where the confession occurred
- Whether the juvenile signed a written waiver of Miranda rights before the confession
Legal Assistance in Fort Lauderdale
The foremost importance of the Miranda rights is to protect against self-incrimination during an interrogation. Therefore, it is critical to consult an experienced defense attorney if you or a loved one is of the belief that Miranda warnings were not properly provided or were improperly, and unfairly waived.