Anytime you have an interaction with the police, you have specific rights available to you under the U.S. Constitution. If an officer places you under arrest, he or she will read you these rights.
The reading of the rights is known as a Miranda warning. The name comes from a court case and refers to certain rights you should know about before you speak with officers accusing you of committing a crime. In general, these rights help you protect yourself legally.
The Miranda warning will tell you that you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to give officers any information or answer questions beyond providing your name. You can evoke your right to remain silent, and they must honor that.
The warning also reveals that you have the right to an attorney. If you ask for an attorney, officers must stop asking your questions. You get to meet with an attorney, and the attorney will then direct any questioning.
After reading you the rights, the officer must ask if you understand them. You will need to affirm or deny your understanding. This is incredibly important because if you end up in court, the judge will need to know that you received the warning and indicated you understood it. Failure to read your rights or confirm you understand could result in the court throwing out evidence, such as statements, that officers collected from you while you were in custody.
A Miranda warning is an essential part of an arrest situation. It is important to ensure officers do not violate your rights and collect information from you in an illegal manner.