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What Are My Rights ?  +  Do I Have Any Rights In The United States ? ( Yes ! )
Most people believe that they know their rights. A week does not go by without
someone calling my office complaining that he or she had been arrested but that
the police officer did not “read me my rights.” They expect my response to be
that their arrest is no good and the charges must be dropped because the officer
did not read them their rights. They are surprised and often disappointed to
learn that it is just not that easy. Most people who think they know their rights
knows those rights commonly referred to as Miranda rights. They come from the
landmark United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona.
What are my Miranda rights?

1. The right to remain silent;
2. The right to consult with an attorney before answering any questions;
3. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you free of
4. Even if you start answering questions, you have the right to stop
answering at any time;
5. The right to a reasonable bond without first answering questions
6. If you are a juvenile, you have the right to consult with a parent or
guardian before answering any questions.
When do these rights apply?
Your Miranda rights, however, apply only to custodial interrogations. This
means that when a police officer detains your liberty, either by arrest or other
circumstances which would reasonably make you conclude that you are in
custody, and if the officer wants to question you about your involvement in
criminal activity, he or she must first advise you of your Miranda rights before the
questioning begins. If you choose not to answer, and thus exercise your right to
remain silent, the officer cannot legally question you. You are not required to
answer a police officer’s questions.
What does it mean to “plead the 5th?”
The right to remain silent has its roots in the 5th Amendment of the United States
Constitution. The 5th Amendment gives you the right against self incrimination.
Most people have read in the newspaper or have watched on T.V. news where
someone pleads the “5th” in response to questions by a prosecutor or law
enforcement officers. You do not have to answer a question if the answer might
incriminate you in criminal activity. In other words, you do not have to help law
enforcement investigate you or help the government prosecute you for criminal
activity. The criminal activity could be something major or it could be something
as minor as shoplifting or disorderly conduct. You do not have to answer police
questions concerning your involvement in criminal activity, and you should not
be afraid to exercise your right to remain silent. If you have questions as to
whether your conduct constitutes a crime, you should consult a lawyer. Don’t be
afraid to talk with a lawyer before talking with the police. There is an old saying,
“ If someone tells you its not about the money, its about the money.” Well I
believe that., “if a police officer tells you that you would be better off talking, you
won’t be better off; if the police officer tells you that he will try to help you if you
talk to him, he won’t.”
What are my rights pertaining to searches?
Along with the right to remain silent, you have the right not to consent to a
search of your home or automobile. If police officers have a search warrant,
then they have a right to search. There are certain exceptions which allow
police officers to conduct a valid search without a warrant. However, you do not
have to consent to a warrantless search. If the police officers want to search,
they will search. However, you do not have to consent to it, and you can contest
the legality of the search in court. When in doubt consult with a lawyer.
NOTE: The Alabama State Bar publishes a series of free brochures on legal
topics of interest to the public. For information on the series and/or to receive
copies, call 1-800-354-6154, extension 134.

Your Miranda Rights

1. You have the right to remain silent.

2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

3. If you are under the age of 18, anything you say can be used against you in a juvenile court prosecution for a juvenile offense and can also be used against you in an adult court criminal prosecution if the juvenile court decides that you are to be tried as an adult.

4. You have the right to talk to an attorney before answering any questions.

5. You have the right to have your attorney present during the questioning.

6. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you without cost, before or during questioning, if you desire.

7. Do you understand these rights?

I have read or have had read to me the above explanation of my constitutional rights and I understand those rights.

________________________ ________________________
Suspect's signature

Understanding my constitutional rights I have decided not to exercise these rights at this time. Any statements made by me are made freely, voluntarily, and without threats or promises of any kind.

________________________ ________________________
Officer's signature                        Suspect's signature 

 ________________________ ________________________
Date/time                                       Location


The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for a portrait on Monday, Sept. 29, 2009. Pictured are (top row, left to right) Associate Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr., Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, (bottom row, left to right) Anthony M. Kennedy and John Paul Stevens; Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.; and Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. (Allison Shelley/The Washington Times)


 WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that suspects must tell police explicitly that they want to be silent to invoke Miranda protections during criminal interrogations, a decision one dissenting justice said turns defendants' rights "upside down."

A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said in a 5-4 decision that suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.

The ruling comes in a case in which a suspect, Van Chester Thompkins, remained mostly silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a Jan. 10, 2000, murder in Southfield, Mich. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.

But Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing the decision for the court's conservatives, said that wasn't enough.

"Thompkins did not say that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk to police," Justice Kennedy said. "Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his 'right to cut off questioning.' Here he did neither, so he did not invoke his right to remain silent."

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court's newest member, wrote a strongly worded dissent for the court's liberals, saying the majority's decision "turns Miranda upside down."

"Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent -- which counterintuitively, requires them to speak," she said. "At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so. Those results, in my view, find no basis in Miranda or our subsequent cases and are inconsistent with the fair-trial principles on which those precedents are grounded."

Thompkins was arrested for murder in 2001 and interrogated by police for three hours. At the beginning, Thompkins was read his Miranda rights and said he understood.

The officers in the room said Thompkins said little during the interrogation, occasionally answering "yes," ''no," ''I don't know," nodding his head and making eye contact as his responses. But when one of the officers asked him if he prayed for forgiveness for "shooting that boy down," Thompkins said, "Yes."

He was convicted, but on appeal he wanted that statement thrown out because he said he invoked his Miranda rights by being uncommunicative with the interrogating officers.

 The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and threw out his confession and conviction. The high court reversed that decision.

The case is Berghuis v. Thompkins, 08-1470.



In the wake of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, in which the Court held that certain warnings must be given before a suspect’s statement made during custodial interrogation could be admitted in evidence, id., at 479, Congress enacted 18 U.S.C. § 3501 which in essence makes the admissibility of such statements turn solely on whether they were made voluntarily. Petitioner, under indictment for bank robbery and related federal crimes, moved to suppress a statement he had made to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, on the ground he had not received “Miranda warnings” before being interrogated. The District Court granted his motion, and the Government took an interlocutory appeal. In reversing, the Fourth Circuit acknowledged that petitioner had not received Miranda warnings, but held that §3501 was satisfied because his statement was voluntary. It concluded that Miranda was not a constitutional holding, and that, therefore, Congress could by statute have the final say on the admissibility question.

Held:  Miranda and its progeny in this Court govern the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogation in both state and federal courts. Pp. 2—14.

    (a)  Miranda, being a constitutional decision of this Court, may not be in effect overruled by an Act of Congress. Given §3501’s express designation of voluntariness as the touchstone of admissibility, its omission of any warning requirement, and its instruction for trial courts to consider the totality of the circumstances surrounding the giving of the confession, this Court agrees with the Fourth Circuit that Congress intended §3501 to overrule Miranda. The law is clear as to whether Congress has constitutional authority to do so. This Court has supervisory authority over the federal courts to prescribe binding rules of evidence and procedure. Carlisle v. United States, 517 U.S. 416, 426. While Congress has ultimate authority to modify or set aside any such rules that are not constitutionally required, e.g., Palermo v. United States, 360 U.S. 343, 345—348, it may not supersede this Court’s decisions interpreting and applying the Constitution, see, e.g., City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507, 517—521. That Miranda announced a constitutional rule is demonstrated, first and foremost, by the fact that both Miranda and two of its companion cases applied its rule to proceedings in state courts, and that the Court has consistently done so ever since. See, e.g., Stansbury v. California, 511 U.S. 318 (per curiam). The Court does not hold supervisory power over the state courts, e.g., Smith v. Phillips, 455 U.S. 209, 221, as to which its authority is limited to enforcing the commands of the Constitution, e.g., Mu’Min v. Virginia, 500 U.S. 415, 422. The conclusion that Miranda is constitutionally based is also supported by the fact that that case is replete with statements indicating that the majority thought it was announcing a constitutional rule, see, e.g., 384 U.S., at 445. Although Miranda invited legislative action to protect the constitutional right against coerced self-incrimination, it stated that any legislative alternative must be “at least as effective in appraising accused persons of their right of silence and in assuring a continuous opportunity to exercise it.” Id., at 467.

    A contrary conclusion is not required by the fact that the Court has subsequently made exceptions from the Miranda rule, see, e.g., New York v. Quarles, 467 U.S. 649. No constitutional rule is immutable, and the sort of refinements made by such cases are merely a normal part of constitutional law. Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U.S. 298, 306–in which the Court, in refusing to apply the traditional “fruits” doctrine developed in Fourth Amendment cases, stated that Miranda’s exclusionary rule serves the Fifth Amendment and sweeps more broadly than that Amendment itself–does not prove that Miranda is a nonconstitutional decision, but simply recognizes the fact that unreasonable searches under the Fourth Amendment are different from unwarned interrogation under the Fifth. Finally, although the Court agrees with the court-appointed amicus curiae that there are more remedies available for abusive police conduct than there were when Miranda was decided–e.g., a suit under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388–it does not agree that such additional measures supplement §3501’s protections sufficiently to create an adequate substitute for the Miranda warnings. Miranda requires procedures that will warn a suspect in custody of his right to remain silent and assure him that the exercise of that right will be honored, see, e.g., 384 U.S., at 467, while §3501 explicitly eschews a requirement of preinterrogation warnings in favor of an approach that looks to the administration of such warnings as only one factor in determining the voluntariness of a suspect’s confession. Section 3501, therefore, cannot be sustained if Miranda is to remain the law. Pp. 2—12.

    (b)  This Court declines to overrule Miranda. Whether or not this Court would agree with Miranda’s reasoning and its rule in the first instance, stare decisis weighs heavily against overruling it now. Even in constitutional cases, stare decisis carries such persuasive force that the Court has always required a departure from precedent to be supported by some special justification. E.g., United States v. International Business Machines Corp, 517 U.S. 843, 856. There is no such justification here. Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture. See Mitchell v. United States, 526 U.S. 314, 331—332. While the Court has overruled its precedents when subsequent cases have undermined their doctrinal underpinnings, that has not happened to Miranda. If anything, subsequent cases have reduced Miranda’s impact on legitimate law enforcement while reaffirming the decision’s core ruling. The rule’s disadvantage is that it may result in a guilty defendant going free. But experience suggests that §3501’s totality-of-the-circumstances test is more difficult than Miranda for officers to conform to, and for courts to apply consistently. See, e.g., Haynes v. Washington, 373 U.S. 503, 515. The requirement that Miranda warnings be given does not dispense with the voluntariness inquiry, but cases in which a defendant can make a colorable argument that a self-incriminating statement was compelled despite officers’ adherence to Miranda are rare. Pp. 12—14.

166 F.3d 667, reversed.

    Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Stevens, O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, and Breyer, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas, J., joined.

Syllabus NOTE:  Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U.S. 321, 337.


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court made major revisions to the now familiar Miranda warnings this year. The rulings will change the ways police, lawyers and criminal suspects interact amid what experts call an attempt to pull back some of the rights that Americans have become used to over recent decades.

The high court has made clear it's not going to eliminate the requirement that police officers give suspects a Miranda warning, so it is tinkering around the edges, said Jeffrey L. Fisher, co-chair of the amicus committee of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

'It's death by a thousand cuts," Fisher said. 'For the past 20-25 years, as the court has turned more conservative on law and order issues, it has been whittling away at Miranda and doing everything it can to ease the admissibility of confessions that police wriggle out of suspects."

The court placed limits on the so-called Miranda rights three times during the just-ended session.

This year's Supreme Court decisions did not mandate changes in the wording of Miranda warnings read by arresting police officers. The most common version is now familiar to most Americans, thanks to television police shows: 'You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?"

However, the court did approve one state version of the Miranda warnings that did not specifically inform suspects that they had a right to have a lawyer present during their police questioning.

The next day, the court unanimously limited how long Miranda rights are valid.

The high court said for the first time that a suspect's request for a lawyer is good for only 14 days after the person is released from police custody. The 9-0 ruling pulled back from an earlier decision that said that police must halt all questioning for all time if a suspect asks for a lawyer.

'In our judgment, 14 days will provide plenty of time for the suspect to get reacclimated to his normal life, to consult with friends and counsel and to shake off any residual coercive effects of his prior custody," said Justice Antonin Scalia, who wrote the majority opinion.

And finally, the court's conservatives used their 5-4 advantage to rule that suspects must break their silence and tell police they are going to remain quiet if they want to invoke their 'right to remain silent" and stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.

All the criminal suspect needs to say is he or she is remaining silent, wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy. 'Had he made either of these simple, unambiguous statements, he would have invoked his 'right to cut off questioning.'"

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the majority's decision 'turns Miranda upside down."

'Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent -- which counter intuitively requires them to speak," she said. 'At the same time, suspects will be legally presumed to have waived their rights even if they have given no clear expression of their intent to do so."


The Reverse Miranda Long Version Short Version

If your kid is picked up by the police (or for that matter if you are) do they know to keep their mouth shut until they see you or a lawyer?

Clarence Darrow, possibly the most brilliant defense attorney of all time spoke of this issue to a jury in the Ossian Sweet case.

Dr. Sweet was a black man who had been threatened by a mob of whites who didn't want him living in "their" neighborhood. He and some family members shot at the oncoming mob, and were arrested.

Here is what Clarence said: "They were taken to a police station, manacled. And they asked for a lawyer. And, every man, if he has any brains at all, asks for a lawyer when he is in the hands of the police. If he does not want to have a web woven around him, to entangle or ensnare him, he will ask for a lawyer. And, the lawyer's first aid to the injured always is, 'Keep your mouth shut.' It is not a case of whether you are guilty or not guilty. That makes no difference. 'Keep your mouth shut.'" - Page 258, "Attorney For The Damned - Clarence Darrow in the Courtroom", Edited by Arthur Weinberg.

Things have not changed since then.

David Simon is a reporter who spent a year with Baltimore's homicide department. He wrote a book on it. On page 204 of the book, Homicide: A year on the killing streets, he explains the Miranda. I quote in part from there:"'You have the absolute right to remain silent.' - Get it straight: A police detective, a man who gets paid government money to put you in prison, is explaining your absolute right to shut up before you say something stupid. 'Anything you say or write may be used against you in a court of law.' - ...wake the (bleep) up. You're now being told that talking to a police detective in an interrogation room can only hurt you. If it could help you, they would probably be pretty quick to say that, wouldn't they? ...No, your best bet is to shut up. Shut up now. 'You have the right to talk with a lawyer at any time - before any questioning, before answering any questions, or during any questions.' - Talk about helpful. Now the man who wants to arrest you for violating the peace and dignity of the state is saying you can talk to a trained professional, an attorney... Take whatever help you can get. 'If you want a lawyer and cannot afford to hire one, you will not be asked any questions, and the court will be requested to appoint a lawyer for you.' - Translation: (If) You're a derelict. (Then there is) No charge for derelicts."

That explains it pretty well. If you, or your child is picked up by the police, say nothing until you or them have seen an attorney. The policeman's job is not to see if you're innocent - they wouldn't have arrested you if they thought you were innocent. No, their job is to arrest someone for a crime. If you did it, great. If it looks like you did it, then that's not to bad for them either. Their job is to be able to show a convicted citizen for every crime that occurs.

Your guilt or innocence is not an issue for them, only a jury.

What you say to the police will be used by them to convince a jury that they DID arrest the right man. Can you imagine them trying to prove to a jury that they screwed up and got the wrong man?


What can you do then, if you are arrested?

Say nothing except this: "I want to speak with an attorney, and I don't wish to answer any questions until I do."

But what about your kids? Everyone knows how many tricks can be pulled in an interrogation room. Is it reasonable to want to have your kid say anything at all?


Give your kids what each of mine carries. The letter that follows is printed on a piece of paper that fits neatly in each of their wallets. You should print this off for your kids:
To: Any agent, officer, or representative of the government
From: (insert child's name here)
If you have found this, or been presented with this, then you are holding me against my will. I wish to be released at once. If you believe you have legal reason for still holding me, then it must be for one of two reasons: 1. You believe I have information relevant to a case and/or investigation and need my assistance. I am happy to comply and will in no way obstruct justice. Simply type up your questions and contact my parent/s at (insert number here) and upon review by them and and any attorney they so choose, I will answer any and all that they and their attorney advise me to. Please do not argue about this, or it will delay the investigation, and neither of us wants that.

2. You believe that I have committed a crime. I want to speak with my parent/s and/or the attorney they provide me, and do not wish to answer any questions or make any statement until I do. You may contact them at (insert number here).

While doing those things, please see to it that I am given food, drink and bathroom breaks frequently, as I will not ask. Please do not ask that I fill out, sign, initial, check off, or in anyway mark anything for any reason. I have been forbidden to do this by my parent/s until they and/or their attorney, can review any such documents.

Finally, please do not interpret my silence as rudeness, guilt, retardation or anything else but what it is - obedience to my parent/s and their attorney.

Copy this as much as you wish. And as an adult, you could carry this as well. Just everywhere it says parent, put your attorney's name and number in there.

Don't have an attorney? Then spend $250 to $500 to a good lawyer as a retainer.

A retainer for what?

For anytime you get picked up for something that you didn't do - or did do, for that matter. Think of it as "legal insurance". That fee paid in advance means that there is a professional out there who- if you are in trouble, can be called in the middle of the night. And very cheap insurance as you are paying him a retainer one time, and hopefully won't be in any trouble at all in the years ahead.

Hope this helps,
Dean West

Short and Sweet Version

Type it out and laminate it. Make a bunch, as kids can lose these. There are many variations, this is just the "theme."

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