Know your Miranda Rights.

Whether from television, movies, or personal experience, we’re all familiar with a police officer’s recitation of a person’s rights when that person is taken into police custody – “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” These rights are commonly known as “Miranda rights.” But when are police supposed to read these rights and how soon are individuals allowed to invoke these rights after being taken into custody? In Chicago, it’s not so clear . . .

The requirement that police recite a person’s rights was created in a 1966 case called Miranda v. Arizona, in which the Supreme Court created this requirement to prevent violations of the Constitution’s Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.[1] The Supreme Court stated that an individual’s Miranda rights must be read to them prior to that individual being subjected to “custodial interrogation.” Custodial interrogation is defined in Miranda as “questioning initiated by law enforcement officers after a person has been taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom of action in any significant way.”[2]

Despite this nearly 50-year old legal precedent, a recent report stated that, in the past three years, less than half of 1% of arrestees in Chicago actually saw a lawyer while in police custody.[3] Further, and more troubling, is that these arrestees are allowed to make a phone call only after being processed, interrogated, and charged, and “when individuals in custody attempt to invoke their legal rights to counsel, they report facing hostility from police.”[4] However, the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”) commented that “every arrestee is read his or her Miranda rights” and that the CPD “verbally advises individuals placed in police custody of their rights to counsel before interview or interrogation.” Inherently unclear in this situation is how an arrestee can effectively invoke his or her right to counsel during interrogation, if that individual is not allowed access to a phone until after being interrogated and charged.

The consequence of a Miranda violation (e.g., police obtaining a confession or statement without reading the individual’s rights) is that the confession or statement is excluded from evidence against the arrestee at trial. Therefore, it is crucial to criminal defense to determine whether a statement was wrongfully obtained. If you or someone you know may have been interrogated by police without having been read Miranda rights or was declined the right to counsel, call a civil rights attorney immediately to ascertain whether a Constitutional violation has occurred.


--By Ara M. Baghdassarian is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.

 The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.


[1] Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966);

[2] Id. at 444.


[4] Id.