If Illinois law enforcement officers ever ask you questions about a criminal matter, you need to know about your Miranda rights and how to avail yourself of them. Why? Because these rights give you the protection you need when officers attempt to interrogate you about an alleged crime they think you may have been involved with.

As FindLaw explains, you have the following four Miranda rights:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to an attorney.
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

Officers must literally read you this Miranda warning any time they arrest you. Unfortunately, however, the Justices who decided the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Miranda v Arizona back in 1966 did not see fit to extend these rights to you prior to your arrest. In other words, officers do not have to tell you about your Miranda rights when they attempt to question you as someone who they believe was in the vicinity of the crime at the time it happened.

Constitutional underpinnings

Despite the fact that, per SCOTUS, your Miranda rights do not kick in until the time officers arrest you, you actually have these rights at all times because they derive from the Bill of Rights, i.e., the first 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Specifically, the following three Amendments guarantee your Miranda rights by any other name:

  • Fourth Amendment right that government officials cannot conduct illegal searches and/or seizures of yourself or your property
  • Fifth Amendment right that you do not have to incriminate yourself
  • Sixth Amendment right that you have an attorney with you any time you undergo questioning by law enforcement officers

So if you ever find yourself in the position of officers attempting to question you about a criminal matter, even though they have not yet arrested you, you should not hesitate to invoke your Miranda rights. Of course, common sense dictates that you never “mouth off” to an officer, but you have every right to respectfully decline to answer questions until you have your attorney present.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.