Getting arrested and held in custody by the police is a scary experience. If this ever happens to you, you may want to argue with the officer that arrests you. However, this is the last thing you should do. As a citizen of the United States, you have the right to remain silent when the police interrogate you. You must invoke this right if you don’t want them to use anything you say against you in court.
Your Miranda rights
The fourth amendment in our constitution dictates that the police must read the Miranda rights when they hold a person in custody. This set of rights has the objective of protecting people from self-incrimination. Your Miranda rights are:
- You have the right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in court
- You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, the state will appoint one for you.
If the police do not inform the accused of their rights, they cannot use anything they say as evidence against them in court. If you invoke your right to remain silent, the police cannot keep questioning you. They also cannot force you to answer any questions. If they do this, anything you say won’t be valid in court.
Things to consider
The police will read your Miranda immediately after they hold you in custody. You’d waive your rights if you say anything after that. If you waive your rights, the authorities can use anything you say against you in court. You don’t need to waive your rights explicitly. You can waive them just by talking. If the police interrogate you after the arrest, you must tell them that you invoke your right to remain silent and that you will not say anything unless you speak to your attorney first.
Additionally, you must know that the police don’t have to read your rights after every arrest. They must read your rights if they intend on interrogating you for custody. They won’t read them to you if you are only a suspect. Also, the police may not read your rights if public safety is at risk, and the officer needs to obtain information quickly.
The importance of silence
Keeping silent is crucial. You may be confident in what you want to say, but the police can twist and misinterpret what you say, so you must not say anything. Insisting that you are innocent and trying to explain what happened won’t work. Remember that saying anything without talking to your attorney first can put you in danger, so you must never waive your rights.
Fighting for your rights
If you invoke your Miranda rights, the police cannot keep questioning. They must stop completely. Otherwise, everything they force you to say won’t count as evidence in court. The only questions you’ll have to answer are those regarding your real name, address, age and date of birth. Other than that, you do not have to say anything to the police. This is your right under federal law, and you can use this as a defense if the authorities force you to say something incriminating.