Anyone who has seen Law and Order knows what is commonly referred to as the Miranda rights:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
This verbiage stems from Miranda v. Arizona, a critical decision by the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1966. The high court held that law enforcement officers are required to read the Miranda warnings to a suspect if they interrogate them while they are detained or in custody. Miranda specifically protects a person from self-incrimination, as outlined by the 5th Amendment, and their right to counsel, as outlined by the 6th Amendment.
Generic questioning like asking a person’s name or address is not considered being under interrogation. These types of questions are asked when a police officer is checking for an active warrant, or if in a traffic stop, to determine if the driver has a valid license to drive. However, questions like: “Are these your pills?” and “Did you hit him?” are questions that can incriminate a person and are not used for just informational purposes.
If a suspect is detained and interrogated prior to being read the Miranda warning, our lawyers may be able to get their statements suppressed so that they cannot be used against them. That being said, a voluntary confession given before a suspect has been read their Miranda rights may be used as evidence in court.
It is our advice to be polite to law enforcement but do NOT answer any questions once Miranda is read. It is your constitutional right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during an interrogation. Exercise your rights and call The Law Office of Robertson & Hunter immediately.