The U.S. Constitution Gives You the Right to an Attorney During Police Interrogations
You have the right to remain silent. You have likely heard those words hundreds of times on TV or in the movies, when an on-screen cop is arresting an on-screen suspect. It is part of the Miranda warnings that the police are required to read to criminal suspects before a custodial interrogation. The Fifth Amendment requires police to give Miranda warnings, including informing suspects of their right to an attorney, before a custodial interrogation. When a cop fails to warn a suspect of their Miranda rights, any information gained from the suspect during an interrogation may be inadmissible in court. Suspects have the right to consult with an attorney even if they have not been formally arrested.
However familiar you may be with the right to remain silent, you may forget or be apprehensive about exercising that right if you find yourself questioned or detained by the police. Many people impulsively engage in conversation with police after a stop out of nervousness, fear, or their desire to explain that, “this is not what it looks like,” in hopes of being released. This is a risky decision with potentially damaging consequences. The more you talk, the more opportunities you have to weaken the defense of your case. You should never speak to police before consulting with an attorney. At most, you should provide police your name and personal information, which can simply be done by handing the cops your driver’s license or identification card.
Why Exercising Your Right to Remain Silent is So Important
There are many reasons to remain silent after a police stop or arrest, including:
- Talking to police may give them information they need to build a stronger case against you.
- You may be able to get a better plea deal down the road if you do not provide too much information to cops up front.
- You may provide information to the police early on that can be used to challenge your credibility later during trial.
- You may inadvertently provide information that can demonstrate motive or opportunity to commit the crime in question.
- It is highly unlikely that you will be able to recall the exact details of your conversation with police between the time of your arrest and your trial. You run the risk of being perceived as dishonest by a judge or jury if you omit details at trial that the police report and records include.
Know Your Rights: Contact an Indiana Criminal Defense Lawyer
Your right to remain silent and right to speak with an attorney before answering any police questions are two of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to all of us under the Constitution. If you are arrested or questioned by the police, you should contact an experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyer immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and that you don’t inadvertently damage your ability to mount the most effective defense.
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