While lawyers and judges are the ultimate legal experts, of course, I believe that every citizen should take the time to learn a little about law for several reasons. First, it is important to know your rights, and knowing them can come in handy if anyone ever accuses you of a crime you didn't commit or threatens you legally in another other way. Second, learning about your local, state, and federal laws can help you act as a better citizen. When election time comes around, you can then truly understand ever change in law being proposed by a candidate and whether it benefits society or not. I plan to share posts about law topics explained in plain English on my new blog, so you can come back often to sharpen your legal knowledge!
Facing any kind of criminal charge can be frightening, and the anxiety and fear of the moment can lead to costly mistakes. One of the things that many defense attorneys want their clients to understand is the foundation of their right to remain silent. Unfortunately, many people lack a thorough understanding of their rights and inadvertently waive those rights before ever talking to a lawyer. Here are a few things that your defense attorney hopes you know before you are ever arrested.
You do not have to answer questions
In many cases, law enforcement will present questions to you as though you are legally obligated to answer them. They might even try to pressure you into answering with various types of intimidation techniques. It is important to understand that you have no legal obligation to answer questions, whether in conversation at the scene or in the interrogation room. You can wait for legal representation before you say anything so that you protect yourself.
You can tell the police you wish to remain silent
When you decide to exercise your right to silence, you can tell the police that you are exercising your Miranda rights and choosing to remain silent until you can speak with an attorney. Ask them to contact your attorney or ask for a public defender and then remain completely silent afterward. If you answer any questions after exercising your right to silence, that can be deemed as a wilful waiver of your right and the information may be used against you in court.
You should ask for an attorney
Even if you're facing minor charges, it is often in your best interest to ask for an attorney to represent you before you answer any questions. Not only can the attorney intervene on your behalf during interrogation, but they can also negotiate better deals with the prosecutors than you could reach on your own. If you want the best possible chance at a positive outcome, ask for an attorney as soon as you are taken into custody.
Any statements that you make to the police are typically admissible in court even when you are not officially in custody and under interrogation. Questions that might seem innocent or casual inquiries can become problematic for you later. Understand your right to remain silent, exercise it if you are in a threatening situation, and ask for an attorney before you answer any questions at all.
Call a criminal defense lawyer for more information.