If you are a fan of television police dramas, you can probably recite the Miranda advisement from memory. This advisement, which comes from the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, includes your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney present for police questioning.
Failing to notify criminal suspects of their Miranda rights has significant consequences. Still, officers do not always have to read you the Miranda advisement. In fact, if officers are not engaging in a custodial interrogation, they typically have no legal obligation to inform you of your rights.
Are you free to leave?
It may not always be easy to know whether officers are conducting a custodial interrogation. Nevertheless, if you are not free to leave, you are probably in police custody. Before talking to officers, you may want to ask if you may leave.
Are officers interrogating you?
Even though officers may not have a legal obligation to advise you of your Miranda rights, they may still use any information you provide against you. Consequently, if officers are talking to you, you should assume they are gathering evidence to build a possible criminal case. Invoking your right to remain silent is probably one of the more effective way to avoid self-incrimination.
Do you understand the risk?
In the face of police questioning, it may be difficult to accurately gauge your legal exposure. Accordingly, before saying anything to the police, you may want to talk to a lawyer. After all, not only can a lawyer tell you if you are in custody, but he or she can also help you respond to police questioning.