Joseph J. Colarusso, Attorney at Law
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Miranda warnings date back to 1966

Connecticut residents likely became familiar with the Miranda warning after hearing police officers in films and television shows tell suspects that they had the right to remain silent and consult with an attorney. The rights referred to in the Miranda warning are provided by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, but police officers were not required to inform suspects about them until 1966.

That was when the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case involving an Arizona man who confessed to kidnapping and raping an 18-year-old woman after two hours of police interrogation. The nation's highest court ruled that the confession was inadmissible because officers used coercive techniques and did not tell the man that he had the right to say nothing and any statements he did make could be used against him in court. While the Supreme Court did not state the specific words police officers should use when they inform suspects about their constitutional rights, the justices did make clear which rights should be included in Miranda warnings.

Failing to give suspects a Miranda warning could result in evidence being excluded or criminal charges being dismissed. Any statements given by criminal suspects to police officers before being advised of their constitutional rights are considered involuntary, which means that they cannot be used by prosecutors in court.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may scrutinize arrest reports and question their clients to ensure that police officers acted properly and gave a Miranda warning. Suspects must be advised of their rights when they are detained and questioned by law enforcement even if they are not placed under arrest, and attorneys may seek to have any statements made by their clients before police officers gave a Miranda warning excluded.

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