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Miranda rights protect people against self-incrimination

Miranda warnings are well-known to many people in Wisconsin, especially as they have become famous as the indication of an arrest in movie and television police dramas. When people face an arrest themselves, however, they may not be sure how these warnings protect their rights. The Miranda warnings have been widely used since 1966 when a Supreme Court decision found that police have an obligation to notify people being arrested of their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against obligatory self-incrimination.

Specifically, people are warned that they have the right to stay silent, that their words will be used against them in court, that they have the right to a lawyer and that one will be appointed if they cannot afford one. No matter the other tactics used by police in an interrogation in order to extract a confession or other statements, the Miranda warnings are designed to inform people that they have no obligation to talk to the police and that they can, instead, ask for a lawyer. When people are not informed of their Miranda rights after being arrested on criminal charges, their confession may be considered coerced and therefore unlawful.

This can have a serious impact on the outcome of a criminal case. People not advised of their Miranda rights after an arrest may be able to have any confession or other statements they made thrown out of court as involuntary and inadmissible. In addition, other evidence garnered by police as a result of these statements may also be excluded from a criminal trial.

Despite the fact that failing to provide proper warnings can lead to a case dissolving in court, people continue to face violations of their rights by police. A criminal defense attorney may help people to challenge police allegations and practices and advocate to prevent a conviction.

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