The Miranda warning (also referred to as Miranda rights) is a warning given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial interrogation) before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings.
In other words, a Miranda warning is a preventive criminal procedure rule that law enforcement is required to administer to protect an individual who is in custody and subject to direct questioning or its functional equivalent from a violation of his or her Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that the admission of an elicited incriminating statement by a suspect not informed of these rights violates the Fifth and the Sixth Amendment right to counsel. Thus in theory, if law enforcement officials decline to offer a Miranda warning to an individual in their custody, they may still interrogate that person and act upon the knowledge gained, but may not use that person's statements to incriminate him or her in a criminal trial. However, in the pragmatic interactions between police and citizens, this is rarely true. In Berghuis v. Thompkins, the court held that unless a suspect actually states that he is relying on this right, his subsequent voluntary statements can be used in court and police can continue to interact with or question him.
The Miranda rule applies to the use of testimonial evidence in criminal proceedings that is the product of custodial police interrogation. The Miranda right to counsel and right to remain silent are derived from the self-incrimination clause of the Fifth Amendment.
It is important to note that immigrants who live in the United States illegally are also protected and should receive their Miranda warnings as well when being interrogated or placed under arrest. Aliens receive constitutional protections when they have come within the territory of the United States and have developed substantial connections with this country.
Assertion of Miranda Rights
If the defendant asserts his right to remain silent all interrogation must immediately stop and the police may not resume the interrogation unless the police have "scrupulously honored" the defendant's assertion and obtain a valid waiver before resuming the interrogation. In determining whether the police "scrupulously honored" the assertion the courts apply a totality of the circumstances test. The most important factors are the length of time between the termination of the original interrogation and commencement of the second and a fresh set of Miranda warnings before resumption of interrogation.
The consequences of assertion of Fifth Amendment right to counsel are stricter. The police must immediately cease all interrogation and the police cannot reinitiate interrogation unless counsel is present (merely consulting with counsel is insufficient) or the defendant contacts the police on his own volition. If the defendant does reinitiate contact, a valid waiver must be obtained before interrogation may resume.
In Berghuis v. Thompkins, the Court ruled that a suspect must clearly and unambiguously assert right to silence. Merely remaining silent in face of protracted questioning is insufficient to assert the right.
Exceptions of Miranda Rights
The Miranda rule would apply unless the prosecution can establish that the statement falls within an exception to the Miranda rule. The three exceptions are (1) the routine booking question exception (2) the jailhouse informant exception and (3) the public safety exception. Arguably only the last is a true exception–the first two can better be viewed as consistent with the Miranda factors. For example, questions that are routinely asked as part of the administrative process of arrest and custodial commitment are not considered "interrogation" under Miranda because they are not intended or likely to produce incriminating responses. Nonetheless, all three circumstances are treated as exceptions to the rule.