Those who are charged with a crime in Virginia and throughout the country must be read their rights before being taken into custody. Individuals have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney and the right to know that anything that they say or do can be used against them in court. These are generally referred to as Miranda rights, and they were the result of a Supreme Court ruling in the case of Miranda v. Arizona.
In that case, a man confessed to a crime after being interrogated by police for several hours. After confessing, he signed a document acknowledging that he knew his rights at the time the confession was made. The Supreme Court ruled that the defendant was coerced into confessing and that he never gave up his rights voluntarily. Miranda rights are rooted in the Fifth Amendment, which prevents a person from saying or doing anything that may incriminate that individual.
In the event that a person isn’t read his or her rights, any statements made to police or other authorities may be considered involuntary. Ultimately, those statements may be suppressed either before a trial begins or during the trial itself. Any other evidence that is uncovered based on an unlawful statement could also be suppressed.
Whether an individual is charged with a felony or misdemeanor, that person is generally entitled to know what his or her rights are. One of those rights is to have legal counsel present during the legal process. An attorney may move to have evidence suppressed or take other steps to help a person obtain a favorable outcome in a case. A favorable outcome may include avoiding jail time as part of a plea deal or being acquitted by a jury after a criminal trial.