What Are The “Miranda Rights”?
If a suspect is under arrest (in police custody) and being questioned (interrogated) about criminal activity, the police must inform the individual of his or her constitutional rights (also known as “Miranda Rights”). The following statement summarizes these rights:
“You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to have an attorney present when we question you, and if you cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for you. If you waive these rights and talk to us, anything you say may be used against you in court. Do you understand these rights?”
If the suspect has not been arrested, a “Miranda warning” is not required. The same is true if a suspect has been detained but hasn’t been questioned. If a suspect refuses to answer questions after receiving a Miranda warning, the police may return—typically within two weeks—and provide the warnings again and see if they have better luck.
If a suspect invokes rights under Miranda, for example, by asking to speak to an attorney before speaking with the cops, statements obtained without the assistance of counsel would generally be excluded in court.
Know Your Rights When Being Pulled Over By The Police
Each person has the right to remain silent. If you’re a passenger, you have the option of asking whether you can go. If yes, go silently. The most important thing is to reduce risk to yourself. How can you achieve that? Follow these steps:
- When you stop your car, make sure it is in a safe place.
- Turn off the car, turn on the internal light, and open the window. If you’re in the passenger seat, put your hands on the dashboard.
- The police might ask to see your identification and proof of insurance. Give them these things if they ask.
- Keep your hands where the officer can see them, and don’t make unexpected movements.
Now, let’s say the situation has escalated and you have been arrested or detained. What can you do now? You may say you want to remain quiet and request a lawyer right away. Make no excuses or explanations. Do not speak, sign anything, or make any decisions without the advice of counsel. But, what happens if your rights were violated?
Take notes as you recall their faces, including cops’ badges and car numbers, the department they came from, and anything else that comes to mind. Get hold of witness contact information. Seek medical attention as soon as possible, and take photographs of your injuries if you’re hurt. File a written complaint with the agency’s internal affairs department or civilian complaint board in most situations. If you want to file a complaint without giving your name, you can usually do so.
Witnessing Police Brutality: What Are Your Rights?
Stand at a safe distance and, if possible, use your phone to shoot a video of what’s going on. You have the right to observe and record events that are visible in public areas as long as you do not interfere with what the cops are doing and do not stand close enough to obstruct their movements.
When recording, do not try to conceal it. Police officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy while on duty, but the individuals they are dealing with may have expectations of seclusion that would necessitate notification if you record them. In many jurisdictions, you must specifically notify everyone that you are recording them. Fortunately, California is not one of them.
You should respectfully but firmly tell the officer that you do not consent to stop recording or give up your phone, and remind him or her that taking photographs or video is your legal right under the First Amendment.
Be cautious that some cops may arrest you for refusing to follow unconstitutional orders. The arrest would be unlawful, but you must balance the personal hazards of arrest (including the risk of being searched upon arrest) against the value of continuing to film.
Make a note of everything you remember, including cops’ badges and patrol car license plates, which agency the cops were from, how many officers were there and what their names were, any use of weapons (including less-lethal weapons such as Tasers or batons), and any injuries incurred by the person being detained.
If you can contact the individual stopped by police after the police have left, they may find your information useful in case they choose to file a complaint or pursue a lawsuit against the cops.