Your civil rights help protect you in part from inappropriate behavior by government authority figures. Law enforcement officers need to conduct themselves in a manner that does not violate your rights under the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
One of the best-known rules about individual rights is the requirement that police officers read the Miranda Warning to the people they arrest. They must inform someone of their right to remain silent and to attorney representation. If you understand when an officer must provide you with the Miranda Warning, then you will be able to determine if they violated your rights, which might affect the usefulness of the evidence they gathered while questioning you.
The Miranda Warning should occur before questioning
Some people mistakenly believe that police officers must provide the Miranda Warning at the time of an arrest. They may base this assumption on what they see depicted in popular media. However, the Miranda Warning is only necessary before police officers question someone who is under arrest and subject to questioning.
In scenarios where officers question someone without ensuring that they understood their Miranda rights first, statements and confessions made during that questioning may be inadmissible as evidence during criminal proceedings.
Officers can talk to and question someone who is not in their custody without giving the Miranda Warning, and they can arrest someone and not inform them of their Miranda rights if they also do not question the individual. Confusion about this rule makes some people think they can challenge statements they made when they may not have grounds to do so.
Understanding your basic civil rights will make it much easier for you to pick an appropriate criminal defense strategy for your circumstances.