Though many people have a passing familiarity with their Miranda rights, very few actually know what they protect and why it is important to rely on them where possible.
What purpose do these rights serve, and is it true that only the guilty will invoke them?
What do these rights protect?
Miranda Warning discusses the importance of Miranda rights. First of all: what are the Miranda rights? They offer two primary protections.
First, they protect a person’s right to remain silent in order to avoid self-incrimination. Next, they protect a person’s right to an attorney, or legal representation, even if they cannot afford it. If they cannot, then the state provides an attorney for them.
An officer must get verbal confirmation from a person that they understand these rights and are choosing to waive them if they want to continue in an interview.
Whether or not to waive your rights
Some people will choose to waive these rights under the false assumption that only guilty people will remain silent. However, this is a damaging assumption that can lead to people unnecessarily incriminating themselves simply because they do not know what to say or do in a police interview.
Generally speaking, it is better to remain silent and to make it very clear that the Miranda rights have been invoked. Then, stay silent even afterward because anything said after the Miranda warning is given can still get used in court.
Simply, it is better to wait until proper representation has arrived rather than diving into a situation that a person may or may not be truly prepared for.