By Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi
January 10, 2015
The Miranda Warning was created in the 1960s as a way of protecting a defendant’s rights during questioning. You’ve probably heard the expression, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” This is the beginning of the Miranda Warning, which goes on to say that you have the right to hire an attorney or seek representation from a public defender. It is critical that you understand these rights, but more importantly, that you exercise them after an arrest.
Most people think that an admission of guilt would not be admissible in court if it was made before they were read their rights. This is not necessarily true. Unless you are being taken into police custody, an officer is under no obligation to read you your rights. In fact, any information that you volunteer during “pre-arrest questioning” could be used against you at trial. For this reason, you may want to avoid answering any questions until you have spoken to your lawyer—even if you have not been formally arrested. Although they may do their best to act like it, the police are NOT on your side.
Once you have been properly Mirandized, the police may ask you, “Do you wish to waive these rights?” If you so wish, you can waive your rights and speak freely with the police; however, this is usually not recommended. The police are trained in interrogation tactics, which means that they may try to confuse you or manipulate you into admitting guilt. The best thing you can do for your case it remain silent and request an attorney. Even if you have already waived your rights, you can change your mind at any time and choose to “plead the fifth.” At this point, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer.
If the police failed to read you your rights after you were formally arrested, there is a chance that your charges could be dropped—which is why you should hire an attorney at the outset of your case. However, the state may still be able to make a case against you if there is overwhelming evidence that you committed the crime. If the police did not have to rely on your answers during questioning to make a case against you, there is a good chance that your case may still make it to trial. For this reason, you should not rely on a single mishap on the part of the police to exonerate you of the charges.
As stated in the Miranda warning, if you cannot afford to hire an attorney, one will be provided for you. This means that a public defender will be assigned to your case. You should not waive your right to remain silent simply because you cannot afford to hire a lawyer. Once you have told the police that you would like to consult an attorney before answering any more questions, they are legally prohibited from continuing their interrogation until a public defender is provided for you. Even if you have done nothing wrong, you could hurt your case by speaking to the police before contacting a lawyer.
Are you in need of an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fort Worth, TX? Contact the Law Office of A. Oliver Hassibi today for a free initial consultation.