The Supreme Court decision in Miranda v Arizona stands for the proposition that police must inform a suspect who is in custody of his constitutional rights to remain silent and consult with a St. Augustine defense lawyer. If you ever have seen a television crime drama, you can probably recite your Miranda rights:
- You have the right to remain silent;
- Your statements can and will be used against you;
- You have the right to consult with an attorney and to have an attorney present during interrogation; and
- If you cannot afford to hire an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
While most people know these rights, it can be difficult to assert them when confronted by law enforcement. Our St. Augustine defense lawyers explain when and how to assert your constitutional rights.
When You Are In Custody Or Under Arrest
You have to be in custody or under arrest for Miranda warnings to be given. If the police encounter occurs when you are in your home, at your job, at a party or a bar, or just walking down the street, police officers are not required to advise you of your rights. Even if the police consider you to be the primary suspect, only when the circumstances are such that a reasonable person would feel he is not free to leave are you considered to be in custody in the eyes of the law. Only then must Miranda warnings be given to you. In addition to being in custody, the police must be actively engaged in behavior that is calculated to produce incriminating statements. Spontaneous statements made by a suspect are not considered the result of an interrogation.
Assert Your Rights, then Stop Talking
Almost anything you say or ask will be used as evidence against you, if possible. On the other hand, if you say nothing, your silence cannot be used as evidence against you. Police know this and use it to their advantage. They know that most people will say something when confronted with serious allegations. They are counting on this to convince or coerce a person to confess to the offense even though the case may be very weak or there may be no evidence against an individual, only suspicions. Unlike most civilians, law enforcement officers are trained in interrogation techniques. Your best defense is your silence and your demand to see a St. Augustine criminal defense lawyer.
Tell the interrogating officer:
“I do not want to talk. I wish to remain silent. I want to see a lawyer.”
Once you have asserted your rights, stop talking. Do not ask questions or have any further discussion with the police about the immediate matter or anything else. Further communication with the police could be interpreted as relinquishing your rights, and the interrogation process may start anew. Spontaneously starting a new conversation with the police, even after you have retained a lawyer, also could be interpreted as relinquishing your right to remain silent.
When You Know You Are A Suspect In A Crime
Just because the police are required to advise you of your Miranda rights only when you are in custody does not mean that you cannot take steps to protect yourself and assert those rights when you are not in custody. If you are approached by a law enforcement officer or if a police officer should leave a card for you to call because you are a suspect in a crime, you should always tell the officer, respectfully and specifically:
- “I do not want to talk to you or anyone else at this time”;
- “I wish to speak to an attorney”;
- “I wish to have an attorney present during any questioning.”
Do not get into the officer’s police car if you are not under arrest; do not go to the police station if you are not under arrest. Write down the date, time and the circumstances under which the officer tried to talk to you, and call your St. Augustine criminal defense lawyer immediately.
The Miranda warnings are interpreted to protect all persons against the naturally coercive and intimidating effects of interrogation by law enforcement officers. To learn more about your rights in the criminal justice system or to talk about your particular situation, contact our St. Augustine criminal defense lawyers today.