In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the famous case Miranda v. Arizona. In this case, the Court decided that coercive interrogations were such a problem that police must give you four warnings before they could begin to interrogate you. You’re probably familiar with some of them if you’ve ever watched an episode of Law and Order, but it’s a good idea to review them all so that you fully understand your rights.
Warning 1: You Have the Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment gives the right not to be compelled to testify against yourself in a criminal case. Practically speaking, this means you don’t have to testify at trial and you don’t need to answer police questions.
If you don’t want to talk, tell the police, “I don’t want to speak to you.” It’s not enough to simply sit there and not say anything. You should also expect the police to come back in an hour or two and ask if you want to speak with them. You must repeat, “I still don’t want to talk with you.” Don’t expect the police to give up easily, so you must remain vigilant and say nothing.
Warning 2: Anything You Say Can and Will Be Used Against You
The police are asking you questions for a reason—they probably think you were involved in the crime. At trial, the prosecutor can introduce any statement you’ve made if they think it helps show that you are guilty. You won’t be able to keep it out simply by refusing to testify at trial.
You should also realize that many police stations bug their phones. If you confess to something when calling friends or family, then those statements can be introduced against you as well. If you’re arrested, it’s best to keep quiet and only talk to your lawyer when he or she visits you in jail.
Warning 3: You Have the Right to an Attorney
The Sixth Amendment guarantees you the right to legal counsel. This right applies not only at trial but as soon as judicial proceedings have been started against you. Generally, judicial proceedings have started as soon as you’re arrested and arraigned before a judge.
Once you tell the police that you want to talk to your lawyer, they must stop all questioning until your attorney arrives. If they don’t, then any statements you make can be thrown out of court. However, as you wait for your lawyer, you shouldn’t voluntarily start up the conversation with the police. If you do, they can claim you’ve reinitiated the interrogation and your statements can be used against you.
Warning 4: If You Can’t Afford an Attorney, One Will Be Provide for You
In Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court decided that the state must appoint a lawyer to all poor defendants in felony cases. You’ll need to fill out paperwork showing your income to prove that you can’t afford to retain your own lawyer. Realize that the state doesn’t need to provide you with an attorney right now. Instead, you might have to wait for charges to be filed and to appear at your arraignment before a public defender will be provided to you.
Call a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney Today
A criminal conviction carries lasting consequences and can make it harder to find a job or apartment. Your best bet is to give the police no information voluntarily. At Mitnick & Associates, we represent criminal suspects as soon as they are arrested. Call us today at 770-408-7000 or fill out our online contact form.