The Right to Remain Silent

You have the right to remain silent,” and I urge you to use it. The part of the sentence in quotations comes from the famous case called Miranda v. Arizona, and it is what we lawyers call the Miranda rights. The Miranda rights are warnings that the United States Supreme Court held were required any time a person is held for questioning in a crime and subjected to custodial police interrogation. The rights come from the Fifth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and are as follows: 1. You have the right to remain silent. 2. You have the right to an attorney at questioning 3. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you and 4. Anything you say may be used against you in Court. Many states have similar constitutional provisions so you may be protected by both the Federal and the State Constitutions.

The second part of the first sentence is something you will probably not hear from law enforcement. Police officers are not going to encourage you to invoke your right to remain silent. Instead they are going to encourage you to waive that right and any other substantive or procedural rights that protect you. When I was a young lawyer I bought a book on official police interrogation techniques so I could better understand what police would say to people they arrest. The entire book was different psychological ways to interrogate someone to get them to waive their rights and confess. I have also represented police officers in the past who were charged with crimes and have been told some of their techniques. It takes a lot of courage to say no to a room of police officers pressuring or cajoling a man or woman to waive their rights.

You should know that the Miranda rights only apply when you are in police custody. What constitutes police custody can be a cloudy question. A police officer stopping on the street to talk with you is not police custody, but holding you by force or psychological force would be police custody. Once you are in custody, you must be given the Miranda warnings before you are questioned. I have written on this topic before and I am a firm believer that if you are a suspect you should invoke your right to remain silent and speak with a lawyer, no matter what law enforcement may say to the contrary. You should answer the booking questions, such as your name, address, parents, tattoos, ect., but beyond those questions you should not answer direct or indirect questions on any topic. If you invoke the right to remain silent, you should not speak to the officers later about the same topic. If you are being transported to or from jail or court, you should not engage in conversations with any officers about your case. There is no such thing as an off the record conversation or casual conversation. If you make a statement, it may be used against you.

Before I leave this topic I suggest to you that at all times you be honest with yourself. I hope no one ever makes a mistake and commits a crime. But recognize that good people can make mistakes and bad choices. If you find yourself in this unpleasant position, use your rights. If the police come to visit you and they claim they want to talk with you because you might be a witness, ask yourself this: “Is there any reason I should be worried about being questioned by the police or F.B.I.” There are over 4500 Federal Laws and regulations that have the same force as laws, and many state laws. I personally believe now days someone could commit a crime and not know it. You have the right to remain silent. Honor it and use it until you speak with a lawyer.

If you or a loved one need a criminal defense lawyer give us a call. Our attorneys have handled drug cases, white collar felonies and misdemeanors, shoplifting, false pretenses, and many other serious crimes. Our office is in Jackson, Mississippi but we travel to Rankin, Madison, Copiah, and every other county in Mississippi. We regularly appear in Circuit Court in Brandon and Canton. Criminal defense and serious accident cases are out focus and your protection is our primary concern.

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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