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Police officers in Florida and around the country are required to advise the suspects they take into custody that they have the right to remain silent and ask for a lawyer. This is known as a Miranda warning because the requirement to issue it was laid down by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the landmark case Miranda v. Arizona. When suspects are not given the warning or are ignored when they invoke their rights, any statements they make and any evidence that is gathered as a result of those statements may be excluded.

Police officers usually prefer to ask questions without a criminal defense attorney present, and they often encourage suspects to waive their rights to avoid this situation. This is often done by telling suspects that asking for a lawyer would make them look guilty. Miranda rights must be invoked unambiguously, but they can be waived either implicitly or expressly. This means suspects must state clearly that they wish to remain silent and then they must remain silent.

Any statements made by suspects subsequent to this invocation could be construed as an implied waiver of their rights, but determining whether or not Miranda rights were waived can be a thorny matter for judges to untangle. To avoid such legal arguments, most police departments ask suspects who are willing to answer questions to sign Miranda waivers.

Experienced criminal law attorneys would likely advise all individuals being questioned by police to invoke their Miranda rights clearly, ask for a lawyer and then say no more. Having a defense attorney present during police questioning may not guarantee a successful outcome, but it could prevent suspects from being tricked, cajoled or intimidated into saying something that they later regret. Attorneys could also demand an end to questioning when police appear to have little in the way of credible evidence.