Some of the most important rights you have as an American (and a Texan) are your Miranda rights. Unfortunately, Miranda rights are also some of the most misunderstood rights among citizens. You’ve probably heard on television that your Miranda rights include your right to remain silent, but your Miranda rights are so much more and so much more complicated than that.

Where Did Miranda Rights Come From?
Miranda rights are named after the Supreme Court case that they come from. That’s the 1966 case of Miranda v Arizona. In the case, the Supreme Court said what Miranda rights are and when the police must give them.

What are Miranda Rights?
Your Miranda rights include the following:
1. You don’t have to talk to the police if you don’t want to. (This is your right to remain silent.)
2. If you choose to talk to the police, they can use what you say against you in a criminal case.
3. If you choose to talk to the police, you can choose to have an attorney present.
4. If you want an attorney but you can’t afford one, you have a right to have an attorney appointed for you at public expense.
5. You can stop talking to the police whenever you want to.

When Do Police Have to Give Miranda Rights?
It’s important to understand that the police don’t always have to give a Miranda warning. They only have to give you Miranda warnings if you’re in what’s called, “custodial interrogation”. That basically means arrested. If you walk up to a police officer on your own and just start talking, they don’t have to give you warnings before they use what you say against you.

Miranda Warnings Cover What You Say
You should know that Miranda rights cover only the things that you say. They don’t cover things that you do. That means, if you’re arrested for being drunk in public and they have video of you stumbling around, they can use that video against you.

Miranda Warnings Only Cover Questioning by the Police
Remember that Miranda warnings only cover things that you say when the police are questioning you. They don’t cover what you say to other people in custody. If you call your brother and admit everything, crying foul with Miranda rights isn’t going to help. The same is true if you talk with a family member while police are out of the room and the police record it.

Who Decides if the Police Violated my Miranda Rights?
If you believe that the police violated your Miranda rights, you need to ask the court to throw out the things that you said. That means asking the court to tell the state that they can’t use what you previously said. This is usually done by making a special motion to the court before your case even goes to trial. You might only have a limited amount of time to get your motion filed, so it’s important to contact an attorney as quickly as possible.

A Famous Texas Case
No discussion of Texas Miranda laws is complete without mentioning the 2013 case Salinas v. Texas. In this case, the Supreme Court said that you must affirmatively invoke your right to remain silent, or it doesn’t count. It’s not enough just to shuffle your feet and look away.

When the police want to ask you about your potential involvement in a crime, the best thing to do is say that you’re invoking your right to remain silent. Tell the police that you want to contact your lawyer immediately. A competent attorney can mean the difference between a hearing case dismissed and having a serious regret.