If you have ever watched a movie or television show where a character gets arrested, you probably know the two primary rights included in a Miranda Warning. Those rights are your right to remain silent and your right to legal representation when facing criminal charges.
Confusion about those rights or the assumption that state employees like prosecutors and police officers will seek to uphold those rights can lead people to make decisions or statements while under arrest that all but ensure their conviction.
Advocating for your rights or having your attorney advocate for you can be one of the most important decisions you make after you get arrested.
Police and prosecutors will try to get around your right to remain silent
Your right to remain silent stems from the right to avoid self-incrimination. When questioned by police after an arrest, you are under no legal obligation to answer their questions or provide them with information. Although they can continue to question you for an extended period, they cannot compel you to speak.
What they may do is try to trick you into thinking they are on your side or that speaking will be in your best interest. An officer might offer to speak on your behalf to a judge or try to get your penalties reduced, a statement which is basically a lie because they don’t have the authority to make decisions about your charges or penalties.
A prosecutor coming to offer a potential plea bargain might engage in similar behavior where they act like your friend and like someone who wants to help you. Staying silent reduces what evidence they have to bring against you and can prevent you from making a statement that complicates your defense.
Waiving your right to an attorney can be a big mistake
Some people think that they can outsmart the police during questioning, while others assume that if they cooperate they will receive better treatment. An attorney understands how prosecutors and law enforcement officers can manipulate a person’s psychology during an arrest and the questioning process to get the results they want. They will see through those tricks and help you make the best decisions possible for the situation.
Asking for a lawyer as soon as you get arrested will ensure that you have someone there pushing for your rights and advising you before you make mistakes that could impact your criminal defense.