Most Americans can probably recite the Miranda warnings off the top of their heads at this point: “You have the right to remain silent. In a court of law, anything you say can and will be used against you. You have the right to an attorney…” We all watch cop shows and courtroom dramas, but how many of us truly understand what it means to have the right to remain silent?
This privilege is an important aspect of our protection against self-incrimination under the Constitution. To put it another way, you have the right not to “tell on oneself.” You cannot be forced to testify against oneself by the authorities. While this appears to be an easy task, it is considerably more difficult than it appears. Keep reading to learn more and contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 if you require a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Miranda Warnings don’t cover every encounter with law enforcement
To begin, you are not entitled to a Miranda warning in every circumstance. If (1) a government agent (2) conducts an interrogation (3) while you are in detention, law enforcement must recite the Miranda warning. If all three parts are missing, you are not entitled to a Miranda warning, and some rights (such as the right to an attorney) are not automatically attached. In other words, if the cops are simply asking you questions on the street and you can leave at any time, you are not in custody – thus you have no right to an attorney.
However, it is critical to remember that you have the right to remain silent regardless of where you are or whether you have been detained. At Chambers Law Firm, we advise you to be courteous to police officers and to answer their basic questions.
If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, for example, you must submit your driver’s license and insurance details. You are not required to inform the police where you have been or if you have been drinking. Similarly, you are not required to inform a police officer where you were or where you are going if you are stopped on the street. Instead, you may say that you’re exercising your right to silence.
Police might try to get you to say more than you are required to say
In some cases, police enforcement will employ a number of techniques to elicit information from a suspect without infringing on his or her right against self-incrimination. A murder suspect, for example, might be shackled in the back of a police cruiser after asserting his right to remain silent. “It’s a shame that the unfortunate girl’s parents will never be able to have a decent funeral and say goodbye to their daughter…”, one police officer says to another, and the suspect then reveals them where the victim is buried. Was that a questioning?
Although the officer did not ask the suspect a question, he did make a statement intended to provoke a response. A skilled criminal defense lawyer could argue that it was essentially an interrogation — and that the officer’s constitutional rights were violated.
Because these cases can be complicated, and the outcome can lead to evidence suppression, it’s critical to have a skilled criminal defense lawyer on your side. From the initial arraignment to the ultimate resolution, the Chambers Law Firm advocates for our clients at every stage of the process. We collaborate with you to seek the best possible result, which may include evidence suppression due to Miranda violations. To schedule a free initial consultation, call 714-760-4088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.