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Understanding Miranda rights

While many Texas residents are somewhat familiar with Miranda rights, they might not have a good understanding of what they are and the protections that they afford. Police officers do not have to read the Miranda warnings to people who they are talking to but who have not yet been arrested.

If someone is taken into custody, the police are required to read the Miranda warnings at that time. They state that the arrested person has several rights, including the right to remain silent, the fact that if the person chooses to talk, what he or she says can be used against him or her, the right to an attorney, and the fact that an attorney can be appointed to represent the person if he or she cannot afford to retain one.

An officer's failure to read the Miranda warning to a person at the time arrest will not necessarily mean that the case will be dismissed. Instead, failing to Mirandize a person will mean that any statements that he or she subsequently makes cannot be used against him or her by the prosecutor. If the police can develop incriminating evidence separate from the statements, the person can still be charged with a crime.

It is important for people to understand their Miranda rights and to exercise them. When they are placed under arrest, they should exercise their rights to remain silent and to an attorney than to talk. When someone asserts their rights, the questioning must stop. People who are accused of crimes might want to retain experienced criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible after their arrests. A lawyer might help a client to avoid mistakes that could harm the defense case and can help to fight against the charges.

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