If you watch any television you’ve probably heard a portion of the Miranda warnings: “You have the right to remain silent and that anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.”
Those warnings were required by the United States Supreme Court in 1966 so individuals arrested by the police would be aware of this fundamental and important constitutional right. In the almost 50 years since the Court required the warnings be read, many people don’t exercise that right – often to their detriment – making statements that incriminate them or otherwise impact the prosecution of their case.
As a Mount Holly criminal defense attorney, the explanation I frequently hear for why someone spoke to the police after being advised of their rights was they thought the police would believe they were guilty or hiding something if they refused to speak – or they would make the police mad.
Here’s the thing many people don’t realize: If you‘ve gotten to the point where police are telling you you have the right to remain silent, they already believe you did something. Talking to them is not going to change their mind.
It may irritate them if you choose not to speak, but in a vast majority of cases it is better to irritate the police than to give a statement that can be used against you.
The Miranda warnings do not just address the right to remain silent. They also notify you that you have the right to an attorney and if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you. These rights are also significant.
Always ask for a lawyer
There are rare instances where simply saying nothing might be useful for the prosecution at trial. For that reason it’s important that you exercise your rights in tandem. Do not speak to the police. In response to reading your rights to you, tell them you would like to speak with a lawyer before answering any questions. That will stop the questioning and allow you to present a defense without the difficulties associated with a statement which may not be useful.
The police may get angry and they may place you in jail unable to make bail, but at that juncture you have the right to bail and reductions can be sought. If you give that statement, it may come back to haunt you and be instrumental in a conviction. I often tell people it’s better to spend a few days in jail on the front end than to spend years in jail on the back end.
They are your rights: USE THEM!
Are you in need of a criminal attorney in Mount Holly? Don’t wait, call an experienced Mount Holly criminal lawyer at 609-261-3400 or reach us through our contact form.