Skip to main content

Exit WCAG Theme

Switch to Non-ADA Website

Accessibility Options

Select Text Sizes

Select Text Color

Website Accessibility Information Close Options
Close Menu
Ratzan & Faccidomo LLC Motto
  • Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC. has moved to its brand new state of the art flagship office. Please make note of our new address
  • ~

The Miranda Warnings and Florida Criminal Cases


Almost everyone has heard a police officer say, “You have the right to remain silent” in a movie or TV show about a criminal case, but they usually don’t show what happens next.  Fictional dramas use that phrase, which is part of the Miranda warnings to show that things are getting serious; the police have caught up to the underdog hero or anti-hero, and now he has a criminal case for real.  The rest is a blur.  If someone reads the Miranda warnings to you, it is a sign that you should stay calm and quiet, be aware of your surroundings, and think of questions to ask your lawyer.  The Miranda warnings relate to rights granted to defendants in the Bill of Rights; if police fail to notify defendants of these rights, it can lead to confessions and other pieces of evidence being declared inadmissible at trial.  Here, our Miami criminal defense lawyer explains how the recitation of Miranda warnings works in practice and how it can affect your criminal case.

How the Miranda Warnings Came to Be

The Miranda warnings take their name from the 1963 U.S. Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona.  Ernesto Miranda was convicted after he confessed to a crime during questioning while in police custody; he knew that, if he lied, he would make things worse.  Miranda later appealed his conviction, claiming that he did not know that he had the right not to answer questions from police.  As a result, the Supreme Court overturned Miranda’s conviction and ruled that, before questioning a suspect in custody, police must notify the suspect of the following points:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you.
  • You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
  • The court will provide an attorney for you if you cannot afford to hire one.

In other words, the outcome of Miranda’s case would have been different if he had known that he did not have to answer the questions and if he had silently waited for a public defender to advise him before and during questioning.

When Do the Police Have to Recite the Miranda Warnings?

Police must recite the Miranda warnings when a suspect is in custody and police are about to question him or her.  Before questioning can begin, the suspect must confirm that he or she understands the warnings.  In other words, police do not have to recite the Miranda warnings as soon as they arrest you or as soon as they pull you over.  Despite this, you should keep your Miranda rights in mind.  Tell the officer your name and provide identification if the officer asks, but otherwise say very little.  It may feel like a very long, silent ride to the police station, but it is worthwhile to wait until you have a chance to talk to your lawyer.

How to Invoke or Waive Your Miranda Rights

The Miranda v. Arizona decision does not specify the exact wording that the police must use when reciting the Miranda warnings.  Likewise, there are no magic words that you must say to signal that you are exercising your Miranda rights.  You must, however, specifically invoke your rights, instead of just pretending to ignore the officer who is trying to question you.  To invoke your Miranda rights, you can say, “I wish to remain silent,” or, “I invoke my right to remain silent.”  You might also say, “I wish to speak to a lawyer before being questioned.”

If you choose to go forward with the questioning, the best way to avoid legal ambiguities is to say that you are waiving the right to remain silent.  Once you waive the right to remain silent, you cannot get it back just because the questioning is more difficult than you expected.  It is best not to waive your Miranda rights and to meet with a lawyer before agreeing to be questioned.

What About Defendants Who Do Not Speak English?

In multilingual Florida, the question naturally arises about what happens when the suspect and the officer have a language barrier.  There is no nationwide or statewide law about the Miranda warnings in languages other than English, and every jurisdiction has its own policies.  Police should never ask suspects to sign papers in languages they do not understand.  Realistically speaking, a police officer cannot question a suspect if they cannot understand each other.  Police should provide interpreters for suspects in custody, and the interpreters should translate the Miranda warnings.

Contact Our Criminal Defense Attorneys

A South Florida criminal defense lawyer can help you if the officer who questioned you did not recite the Miranda warnings.  Contact Ratzan & Faccidomo in Miami, Florida for a confidential consultation about your case.


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

By submitting this form I acknowledge that form submissions via this website do not create an attorney-client relationship, and any information I send is not protected by attorney-client privilege.

Skip footer and go back to main navigation