Police must act in accordance with regulations that govern their process of search, seizure and interrogation. People have rights, and even if someone has committed a crime, those rights still exist and are meant to protect against unlawful actions by police. Certain rights, such as those that are supposed to be mentioned in a Miranda warning, also protect against self-incrimination.
The Miranda warning has been in existence since 1966
Actors and actresses playing the part of a police officer in a TV show or movie often speak a Miranda warning to someone being placed under arrest. In real life, this warning became part of police protocol after a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1966. An arresting officer is supposed to issue a Miranda warning, which should include statements that inform the person being arrested that he or she has a right to remain silent without the presence of an attorney. An arresting officer must also explain that if a person chooses to answer any questions, what he or she says can be used for incrimination purposes.
Questions asked before an arrest
During a traffic stop, for instance, beyond identifying oneself or providing vehicle registration information, an individual is not obligated to answer personal questions, such as whether he or she has consumed any alcohol before getting behind the wheel. When no arrest has been made, a police officer doesn’t have to issue a Miranda warning. However, answers to questions asked without having been arrested can still be used in court if the person winds up facing criminal charges.
Making sure all of one’s rights are understood
In addition to issuing a Miranda warning at the time of an arrest, a police officer must also make sure a defendant has understood everything that he or she has said. If English is the person’s second language, a translation should be provided. Facing criminal charges in Alabama or any other state can be a frightening experience. It’s important to try to remain as calm as possible. It’s also imperative that an individual knows where to seek additional support to help protect his or her rights if a case is brought to trial.