If a person has watched television or gone to the movies, he is aware of the right to remain silent that was firmly established through the case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The basic tenets of this right is that a person is protected from self-incrimination, arising out of the Fifth Amendment, with the right to remain silent in the face of police questioning.
The other components of the protection are:
- Any statements made by the person can be used against him in court;
- The person has the right to consult an attorney;
- The person has the right to have an attorney present during any questioning;
- The person has the right to a court-appointed attorney if he cannot afford an attorney; and
- If the person does consent to police questioning, he may terminate the interview at any time and assert his right to an attorney.
A police officer must advise a person of these rights as soon as they are taken into custody after an arrest and prior to any interview. Despite the fact that these rights are well-known, many people innately want to cooperate with the police when they are initially confronted, whether arrested or not. The police are well-aware of this desire of people to try to be helpful and they take advantage of it all the time. Aggressive prosecutors also will try to bully a person into a confession before he retains an attorney. Many times, the police will ask someone questions who is not in custody, but it is critical for a person to remember that any time the police are involved, it is important to refuse to answer any questions and then consult an attorney as soon as possible.
An experienced criminal defense attorney is going to be able to assess the situation, which may be an information-gathering expedition or may be the lead-up to an arrest. Having an attorney present before responding to any questions can prevent the following:
- A person may inadvertently provide evidence that then can be used to build a case against him;
- A person may be nervous during the exchange and may make statements that lead to confusion, resulting in a greater focus on the person than otherwise would have occurred;
- A person may make false statements to the police in an effort to end the inquiry as quickly as possible;
- The police may make false statements to the person being interviewed/interrogated, leading to a scenario where the person being interview is relying on lies;
- The police may lie about the statements that the person made if there is no recording of the interview/interrogation; and
- A person may confess to something that he did not do in an effort to get through the interrogation – this happens far more often than people realize.
There are many things that can go wrong during a police interview or interrogation. It never is a good idea to make any type of statement without getting the right criminal defense attorney on your side first.
One other thing that may seem patently unfair, but has been upheld in the courts is that a person must affirmatively invoke the right to remain silent in order to be protected under the Miranda holding. What this means is that the individual must state or otherwise communicate that he is remaining silent and requesting an attorney. If he fails to do this, the fact that he did not respond to questions about the crime with which he was charged might be used by the prosecution as evidence of his guilt.
There are many reasons to contact an attorney as soon as you learn that the police are investigating you or you are somehow associated with an ongoing criminal investigation. At the Atlanta Criminal Defense Firm of the Abt Law Firm, LLC., we have the skill and experience to get our clients off without any jail time. In many circumstances, we are able to prevent our clients from having any criminal record whatsoever. It is important for you to call us immediately at 1-800-NO-JAIL-9. We offer free consultations and are ready to come to you in jail.