We’ve all seen the television shows where police officers read Miranda rights to the people they arrest. Yet Miranda rights, which are really just a restating of your 5th Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination, are wildly misunderstood.
Yet they are also your most important weapon in the fight to remain free of long-term criminal consequences for your arrest.
Any time before you are actually arrested you are not protected by 5th Amendment rights until you yourself invoke them. This can include:
- A situation where police are talking to you in your home, car, or on the street.
- A situation where you’ve been detained and questioned.
- A situation where the police claim they’re simply looking for information.
It’s never a good idea to talk to police officers, even when you think you might only be a witness. Witnesses turn into suspects all too often.
In any of these situations, even if you’re innocent, your best call is to say, “I respectfully decline to answer, and I invoke my 5th Amendment rights. I will not answer questions unless a lawyer is present.”
You should just keep repeating this in response to every question. Do this rather than lying or clamming up, as both can be used against you. In one Supreme Court case that originated right here in Texas, Salinas v. Texas, Texas police offered a defendant’s silence and change in demeanor as evidence as to his guilt, and the courts let that stand.
After Your Arrest
The biggest mistake people make after being arrested is attempting to convince the police that they are innocent and there has been some mistake. There is literally nothing you can say to make the police let you go. Once they arrest you they think you are guilty of something.
Any information you provide could be used against you, and police ask misleading questions all the time. They’re also legally allowed to lie to you. You may think you’re providing an alibi by discussing your location on a certain date and time, but inevitably it will turn out that the location you name will put you within the vicinity of the crime, or make your situation worse.
Often, if allowed to continue interrogating you, police will simply browbeat you and wear you down until you confess just to make it stop. They can’t hit you, but they can deny you sleep, food, and the ability to use the bathroom. In certain emotionally-charged scenarios this can lead to false confessions, even if you don’t normally consider yourself susceptible to such things.
When your only answer is, “I invoke my right to remain silent and I want a lawyer,” they don’t have anywhere to go with that. As soon as you invoke your right to a lawyer an interrogation is supposed to stop.
Don’t ruin it by speaking up again: you’ll waive your rights as soon as you do. Just stick to the hardline until you are allowed to call an attorney…preferably a private criminal lawyer who is ready to fight for your rights.
Get Help Now
If you or a loved one is in trouble with the police you need legal help immediately. Call Greco Neyland to get the help you deserve.
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