Merrida Coxwell is know throughout Mississippi as a leader in the field of criminal defense. Coxwell & Associates’ main office is in Jackson, Hinds County, MS, with a branch office in Madison County. Over his 29 years of experience Merrida has handled almost every type of offense in state and federal court and helped people from every walk of life. Merrida is a strong believer in an educated client.

I have written several times on the Constitutional right to remain silent. This right comes from the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It holds that in every case no person can be compelled to give testimony against them self. This means that if you are a suspect or questioned by the police, you do not have to answer any questions that might be incriminating or link you to any offense. It is important to understand one thing when you are contacted by the police. The police have the right to make traffic stops and investigatory stops. For example, if the police see you run a red light, they may pull you over and ask for your license, registration, insurance card, and talk to you about what you have been doing, especially if it is late or someone perhaps called in a burglary and you happen to be in the same area. Generally, the information obtained at investigatory stops is not considered by the courts as incriminating. But this information could be incriminating.

The Fifth Amendment is a personal right and it is the right of the person to decide when they want to exercise that right. If you get stopped by the police for a routine traffic stop and the officer keeps holding you against your will and questioning you, at some point you may decide to invoke your right to remain silent. I recognize the Fifth Amendment is a difficult right to know exactly when to invoke. Anytime you think the police are going to far, suspect you of a crime, or are accusing you of a crime, you have the right to invoke the Fifth Amendment. It is one of the most protective Constitutional right we have in this country. The men who started American believed it was important because during their fight for freedom from the British, the British would often force a person to confess by threats or torture. A confession given under threats or torture is not reliable.

If at anytime you think the police are accusing you or pointing a long finger of guilt at you, or they wish to speak to you about a crime, claim your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and talk with a lawyer. It is better to have a lawyer talking to the police on your behalf to determine what it is the police want from you. The law allows law enforcement to lie to you. They do not have to tell you they are investigating you for a crime. Once a lawyer is involved they are not likely to lie to the lawyer. Most times a lawyer will meet with you for an initial conference for very little cost. In the long long it is money wisely spent. I will post another article further explaining the Fifth Amendment later today.

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.

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