What You Need to Know About Miranda Rights
Most people have at least heard of Miranda Rights, even if they have had no experience with them. Unfortunately, many people hold misconceptions about these rights thanks to popular legal dramas and movies. The biggest misconception is that people must be read their Miranda Rights as soon as they are taken into police custody. The truth of the matter is that police must only read Miranda Rights if they plan on questioning a suspect. Here is what else you should know.
1. You Have the Right to Remain Silent
When you are told you have the right to remain silent, the police are essentially telling you that you cannot be forced to or coerced into answering their questions. It is entirely up to you if you choose to speak with the police or not. You can also stop answering questions at any time, even if you originally chose to consent. The right to remain silent is first and foremost provided by the Fifth Amendment, which protects you from being compelled to testify against yourself.
2. Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You in a Court of Law
When police tell you this, it is best to pay attention. This is why criminal defense attorneys will tell any potential client not to speak with the police without a lawyer present. Once you start answering questions posed to you by law enforcement, you are providing evidence. What you say may or may not be submitted into court, and it may or may not convince the police of your guilt. No matter how friendly police may seem, they are attempting to build a case and do not have your best interests in mind.
3. You Have the Right to an Attorney. If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, One Will Be Provided for You
Anyone who has been arrested has the right to an attorney. They have that right as soon as they are taken into custody. This does not mean, however, that the police will bend over backwards to help you find one. If you have an attorney, you can call them. If you don’t have an attorney to call, chances are slim that the police are going to hand you a phone book. You will be able to contact family who may be able to find an attorney for you.
If you don’t want to answer questions with an attorney present, questioning will (or, at least, should) cease, but the police won’t go find an attorney to represent you simply so they can ask questions. If you feel you cannot afford an attorney, you will have to fill out paperwork to prove it. If the court deems you unable to afford your own representation, they will supply you with a public defender who will represent you in court.
4. Waiving Your Rights
Once your rights have been read, you may choose to waive them. In essence, you are telling law enforcement that you understand the rights that are afforded to you, but you are choosing to answer their questions without a lawyer present.
If you have been arrested in DeKalb County, call our office. Hawkins Spizman Fortas has the experience you need at this stressful time. We will review the details of your arrest and advise you of your available options. Call today.