You hear it often in cop shows when a person is about to be arrested: “You have the right to remain silent…” This is the Miranda warning, and it is designed to explain to a person their rights when they are in police custody. However, it is important to understand that just because you have not yet been arrested and Mirandized that what you say can’t be held against you in a trial.
The Miranda warning first came about after a 1966 case Miranda v. Arizona when the court ruled that the defendant’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination was violated upon interrogation because he was not aware of these rights. After that, law enforcement officers were required to explain these rights to a person during their arrest and before an interrogation can take place in order for the statements to be admissible.
However, when a person is just being interviewed and is not yet under formal arrest, the police can elicit information that may be consequently incriminating. They delay making an arrest declaration because they want to keep you talking and not ask for a criminal defense lawyer, who will definitely throw a spanner in the works. Most people want to explain themselves, thinking that the police will see it their way. They will not think about calling a lawyer until it is brought to their attention.
The police know that no verbal statement is admissible in court unless it is captured on video or other recording device, which is why police cars are now equipped with dash cams and interrogation rooms are wired for sound and video. Even if you are just being interviewed, whatever you say that is recorded can be used against you.
For example, if you are detained for whatever reason in Dallas, the only thing you are required to do is to provide identification and proof of insurance if you are driving. Your right to remain silent is always in force; you don’t have to wait to be Mirandized to “activate” it. A Dallas criminal defense lawyer will thank you kindly if you say nothing prior to legal consultation.