If you are a fan of cop shows, you may be able to recite the Miranda warning from memory. This is the advisement officers have a legal duty to give criminal suspects before beginning a custodial interrogation. The warning includes two elements: your right to remain silent and your right to confer with legal counsel.
The Miranda warning, which comes from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court opinion, protects your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. If you are beside the road during a DUI stop or expect officers may question you in connection with a criminal offense, you may want to think about asserting your legal rights.
Your right to remain silent
During a stressful situation, such as an arrest, you may not think clearly or understand the consequences of your statements. Still, prosecutors may use anything you tell officers against you. If you intend to invoke your right to remain silent, you should be as clear as possible. Then, after exercising the right, you must stop talking.
Your right to legal counsel
You also have a right to have an attorney present during police questioning and in court. Requesting an attorney has essentially the same effect as invoking your right to remain silent. That is, if you ask for a lawyer, officers should stop questioning you until you confer with one. Nevertheless, prosecutors may still use any statements you make not in response to police questions against you.
Remember, police only must inform you of your Miranda rights when taking you into custody. If you are free to leave, officers do not have to tell you about your legal rights. Consequently, you may want to keep your fundamental rights in mind any time you are talking with the police.