Television police dramas are rife with scenes of suspects being told "you have the right to remain silent," which is part of the Miranda warning. This warning is given to people being arrested and is meant to inform and protect suspects from self-incrimination while being questioned in police custody. However, the police often bring people in for "questioning" who are not under arrest, but who may, in fact, be suspects in a crime. Read on to learn more about how to protect your rights when being questioned by the police.
Your Rights While Under Questioning
Commonly, the police won't "Mirandize" people who are ostensibly being questioned about a crime. The law says that if you are held in a locked room and are not free to walk out the door whenever you wish, you must be read the Miranda warning. Often you will hear the officers plainly state that the suspect is not under arrest. Unfortunately, this situation can lead to people incriminating themselves while being recorded, since they either feel intimidated by the situation and comply with questioning or they mistakenly believe that what they say won't be used against them since they have not been read their rights.
Stand Up For Your Rights
Statements made while being questioned can and do lead to self-incrimination and can be repeated in court against you. In order to ensure that your Fifth Amendment Right to prevent self-incrimination is not trampled upon, you must repeat the following words for the record: "I invoke my privilege against self-incrimination".
Speak Up to Ensure Protection
Don't simply clam up and refuse to say a word. You must utter the sentence above to protect your Constitutional right. In a controversial 2013 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that maintaining silence while being questioned could imply guilt. Unfortunately, this ruling gives the impression that those under arrest and having been read their Miranda warning have more rights than those just being questioned.
Know Your Rights
Being questioned by the police can be an intimidating and extremely stressful event, but you should understand that you do have rights granted by the Constitution. Regardless of whether you have just been asked to come for questioning or you are under arrest and have been read your Miranda warning, you should know and assert your rights. In most states you are required to give your name, but beyond that you are not required to provide any more information after giving your Fifth Amendment statement. It's vital to realize that any utterances you make after your Fifth Amendment statement could be used against you.
You have the right to contact a criminal defense attorney if you are being detained for any reason, and you should do so immediately. Being suspected of criminal activity is a serious matter and you will need professional legal help and support.