Having any kind of interaction with law enforcement can be stressful, whether you believe yourself to be innocent or not. When you’re confronted with police questioning, it can be difficult to keep your cool, or to remember what rights you have in this situation. Too often, people incriminate themselves, or say the wrong things, and end up in legal trouble. Before you have to get on the phone with a Greensboro criminal defense attorney, it’s a good idea to read up on your rights as a citizen, when you are interacting with the police.
Specifically, there are laws that are designed to protect you when under questioning. You have probably seen some of these scenarios on TV, depicting the dramatic scenes of arrest and police interrogation. While the reality is hardly as exciting as a television show, it’s important that you understand what you should and should not say, in order to protect yourself.
The Miranda Rights
Many of us are familiar with the “Miranda rights,” as these typically are recited to any alleged criminal prior to questioning. The Miranda rights are:
- You have the right to remain silent
- If you do say anything, it can be used against you in a court of law
- You have the right to have a lawyer present during any questioning
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire
Some people believe that if they are not read their Miranda rights, they will escape punishment, but this isn’t true. However, if you are not read your rights, the things you may say cannot be used against you in a criminal trial. There are some exceptions to this guideline, so it’s best to consult with a qualified attorney before making this assumption!
While you do have the right to remain silent, under the Fifth Amendment, there are some specifics that you should be aware of. In some cases, prosecutors can interpret your silence as a sign of guilt, or otherwise comment on your silence if:
- You are not in police custody, and are not “Mirandized”
- You voluntarily submit to police questioning
- You stay silent, without expressly invoking your Fifth Amendment rights
There is a lot to know about how to protect yourself when faced with police interrogation, so if you need help, reach out to us at the law office of E.J. Boswell. Ask for your free consultation to get started.