There is always confusion on the matter of Miranda Rights when clients visit us for legal advise after an arrest. Your Miranda Rights are the warnings that the police are required to give a person when they are 1) in police custody and 2) subjected to interrogation. Notice again that your Miranda Rights apply only in instances of custodial interrogation. That means if you have a voluntary encounter with the police, statements that you make may be used again you even though you were not advised of your Miranda Rights. Your Miranda Rights are the following:
You have the right to remain silent. Do you understand?
Anything you do say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Do you understand?
You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning. Do you understand?
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand?
Understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions?
Many law enforcement agencies view the Miranda Rights as an impediment to their ability to investigate. Those of us who view our civil liberties as valuable rights think of the Miranda Rights as a balance between the force and power of the government and the individual. Police officers are taught how to interrogate individuals and how to diminish and get around the Miranda Rights. In order to fully protect yourself in a time of crises like an arrest, you need to understand and be willing to invoke your Miranda Rights until you have had the opportunity to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney.
If you want to adequately protect yourself when confronted by police then you need to say, without equivocation, “I want and attorney now, before talking with you (the police) anymore.” Practice making that statement several times and mean it. If at anytime the police office tells you that you do not need an attorney or that perhaps you could have an “off the record conversation,” repeat to him that you want a lawyer. There is no such thing as an “off the record” conversation. Anything you say to police, whether oral, written, recorded, or even said “off the cuff” or as a joke, can and probably will be used against you if it benefits the prosecution. And as shocking as it may seem, the law allows the police to lie to you. The police do not have to tell you the truth. They can lie to you to try to get a statement or confession. But if you make a mistake when talking with the police they will interpreted it as a deliberate lie and the prosecutor will attempt to use it against you at a trial.
The most important thing to remember is this: If you are confronted by police and you think you are a suspect, or they indicate you are say nothing except “I want to speak with a (my) lawyer. If you are arrested make absolutely no statement or comment of any kind to the police. At the time of your arrest ask for your lawyer and remain silent. On the drive to the police station do not answer questions or make any statements to the police about the suspected crime. Do not engage in casual conversations with the police during the booking process about the alleged crime. You may give the police booking information such as your name, address, family, ect., but nothing about the crime or investigation. Quite often police will question a person and after being unsuccessful in their questioning or after the person invokes his Miranda Rights, they will send a different officer into the booking room or by the cell to start up a casual conversation like, “hey what are you in here (jail) for?” In order to protect yourself, once you invoke your Miranda Rights, you must not start or engage the police in a conversation or they may come back and try to begin another interrogation.
The Miranda Rights were created to balance the awesome power that the government has over the lives of individuals. In order for you to protect yourself you must be willing to invoke these rights and stand by that decision no matter what the police may say until you have had the opportunity to consult with an attorney.
Remember, the law allows and permits the police to lie to you. You are not permitted to lie to the police-that has been made a crime by both the State and Federal Governments. Doesn’t that seem ironic? “I want my lawyer and I do not wish to make any statement.” That sentence may be your best friend at sometime in your life.
Finally, you should know that if the police fail to read you the Miranda Rights, that does not mean your criminal charge is thrown out or dismissed. The law in this area is complicated and not easy to explain. If you are questioned by the police and they fail to advise you of your Miranda Rights, the remedy is to ask the Court to suppress your statements or confession. There are some exceptions to this rule. However, even if the Court throws out your statement or confession, you could still be prosecuted if there is other or additional evidence of your guilt. And if the police arrest you for a crime and never question you, then there is not need for them to read you the Miranda Rights. I hope this has helped you understand a little more about your rights. At Coxwell & Associates we are committed to educating people on their civil and constitutional rights. The protection and service to our clients interests is our sole and primary goal. Please come see us, call, or write if you need our services and advice.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.