When police stopped your vehicle, came to your home or took other action due to the belief that you committed a crime. You may have begun to panic. Your mind may have started reeling, wondering what could have caused you to become a suspect, what the accusations even mean and what you should do about your arrest.
Officers may have presented you with questions before, during or after the arrest, and you may have thought that telling them everything you knew would work in your best interests. However, that tactic does not always work out for the best. In fact, remaining silent is often a more useful strategy. Of course, you may not have thought about staying quiet, and an officer may have failed to inform you of your right to do so.
Any time an officer conducts an arrest, he or she has the duty to inform the person taken into custody of his or her rights as set forth under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This step is commonly known as reading a person his or her Miranda rights, and those rights include the following information:
- You can remain silent and refuse to answer any questions posed to you.
- If you do choose to speak, the court may hold that information against you during your case.
- If you would like to obtain legal counsel, you have the right to enlist the help of an attorney.
- In the event that you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint one to work on your behalf.
Understanding these rights helps prevent individuals from providing statements that could potentially provide authorities with self-incriminating information. However, if an officer did not inform you of these rights, you may have believed that you had to answer their questions regardless.
Miranda rights and your defense
If the arresting officer or other authorities involved in your case did not read you your rights, that mistake could work as part of your criminal defense. In fact, the court may throw out any information you provided while unaware of your rights, as well as any additional evidence that information may have helped officers obtain. When a considerable amount of evidence becomes inadmissible, you may have a greater chance of avoiding a conviction for the charges brought against you. You may find more information on this topic useful.