When faced with the possibility of a police interrogation, it is important to understand how to face it appropriately.
This is where knowing about your Miranda rights comes in handy. This is more than just a right to remain silent; it could mean the difference between accidental self-incrimination or maintaining your innocence.
The function of your Miranda rights
Miranda Warning discusses how your Miranda rights work in reality. Many shows put emphasis on the fact that it protects your “right to remain silent” without actually going into detail about what this means.
In essence, it means that police cannot force you to speak with them. They cannot use any method, including physical harm or intimidation, to get you to participate in an interrogation. They may attempt to intimidate you into not invoking your Miranda rights at all, because it is such a powerful protection.
Note that if you invoke your Miranda rights and still speak to the police afterward, they can document what you say and use it against you in court. So if you invoke your right to remain silent, actually remain silent.
The lesser-known right protection
Your Miranda rights also provide another important protection: your right to legal representation. Not everyone can afford an attorney, and if you invoke your Miranda rights, the state will have to provide an attorney for you.
The attorney will understand better than you how to navigate through a police interview or interrogation. They know what pitfalls to avoid and how to keep you from self-incriminating by accident. Thus, together, these two protected rights can help you stay out of trouble.