Legal Rights During a Police Interrogation
Sometimes, even law-abiding citizens find themselves under arrest. If it happens to you, you may be surprised that it’s not always like what you see on TV. Many people that are charged with crimes in Arizona think that they should be read their rights at the point of arrest.
Miranda rights, or Miranda warnings as they are sometimes called, are important. However, an officer doesn’t have to read them immediately. These rights are usually read to you when you are taken into custody for interrogation.
These warnings are to protect your Fifth Amendment privilege, which grants you the right to remain silent while you are being questioned in custody. It’s not the only right bestowed upon you by the Constitution. Even if you’re not planning on breaking any laws, every American should understand their full rights under the law.
Where Did the Miranda Rights Come From?
While Miranda rights were not new legal rights, they created a form of protection for citizen’s Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights in the Bill of Rights. They are named after the famed U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, in which a man named Ernesto Miranda was arrested for stealing $8 from a bank worker.
Miranda was questioned relentlessly for two hours, finally confessing to this robbery as well as kidnapping and rape. He was never informed he did not have to speak to the police when he was brought in for questioning or that he could speak with a lawyer. Since this ruling, the police are required to recite the Miranda warning to suspects before they conduct any questioning or interrogation in custody.
What Are Your Rights During Interrogations?
For most people, being arrested is an incredibly upsetting experience. However, whether you actually committed a crime or were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time does not matter as far as your rights are concerned.
Knowing what rights you have during a police interrogation will help you avoid making things worse.
The Right to Remain Silent
One of the most important rights you have during a police interrogation is to remain silent. The choice to avoid speaking can’t be used against you in a court of law. However, you should be cautious before your rights are read, as not speaking at all can raise red flags. You don’t need to make small talk, but you can let the police know that your attorney has advised you to not make a statement without their presence.
When you are read your Miranda rights, you will be advised that anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. Stating that you wish to remain silent and want to speak with your attorney is your fundamental right.
The Right to an Attorney
While in custody at a police interrogation, you will also have the right to have an attorney represent you. As a suspect, whether you committed a crime or not, you must be informed of this right to counsel. If you wish to have one, the police must stop their interrogation when you request an attorney.
Additionally, you must be informed that if you can’t afford an attorney, there will be one appointed to you. Everyone deserves the right to have representation by legal counsel without having to worry about paying for it. However, you should understand that public defenders are often overloaded with cases, so it may be difficult for them to give your case the attention it deserves.
This is why many people choose to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Regardless, you should have a lawyer on your side to discuss the particulars of your case and advise you on what to do next.
What You Should Know Once You’re in Police Custody
When you are taken into custody, you must be informed of your Constitutional right to remain silent as per the U.S. Supreme Court. You will likely also be read the full Miranda warnings that include anything you say being held against you and your right to an attorney, including the option for court-appointed counsel.
After you are informed of your Constitutional rights, you should let the officer know that you wish to remain silent and want to speak to a lawyer. It is imperative that you not say anything else after exercising your rights.
In turn, all arresting authorities must respect your rights. They are not permitted to force you to speak or answer questions. You are not obligated to sign anything. Any seasoned criminal defense attorney will advise you not to sign any document without having them look at it first.
If you were coerced into answering questions or signing something after exercising your rights, try not to worry too much. Your attorney can block it from being used against you during your trial.
After you are in police custody, you have additional rights that you can exercise as well. You will have the right to make a few local phone calls. You can use this opportunity to call an attorney and a member of your family to inform them of what has happened. When you are on the phone with your lawyer, the police can’t listen. However, if you are on the phone with anyone else, they can and, quite often, do listen to everything you say.
Whether you made an error in judgment or you are being falsely accused of a crime, hiring a criminal defense attorney in Tucson is the smartest way to handle this situation. With the right lawyer, you will have the best defense to stand up to the charges, especially if you didn’t know about your legal rights during interrogation.