This is a terribly important question, if for no other reason than because once an individual is taken into custody by a police officer, he or she is supposed to make you aware of your Miranda rights. Miranda rights are a short list of constitutional rights that each citizen has.
The two most important tenets of Miranda is: 1) the right to remain silent when you are being questioned by a public official (like a police officer). So if you are on the receiving end of a police query, and you are unsure of how to answer (and certainly if you believe you are going to incriminate yourself by answering), then this right should be exercised. But you must actually verbalize the right to remain silent. In other words, you have to speak up and say something like, “I don’t want to talk you anymore,” or “I really don’t want to answer anymore of your questions.” Once this right is exercised (out loud, to the police officer), then questioning must stop.
The other fundamental right of the Miranda ruling is: 2) the right to consult with an attorney, or have an attorney present while the questioning occurs. Once you make it clear that you want to talk to an attorney, the officer must stop his or her questions.
So what happens if you exercise either of those two Miranda rights, but the police keep asking you questions? There is actually nothing stopping the police from continuing to ask you questions. Even if you invoke your right to remain silent, if you break that silence by answering anymore questions, the statements you make can used against you. Why? Because once you have been read your Miranda rights, it is assumed that you understand what they are. So if you subsequently decide to keep talking to the police thereafter, it is assumed that you fully realize that these statements can and will be used against you.
Many cases in the criminal defense world come down to this very question of law: can the statements that a defendant made to the police be used against them in court, or should the statements be thrown out because they were taken in violation of Miranda? Indeed, a great many United States Supreme Court cases have tried to answer this question for decades. And defense attorneys and prosecutors argue individual cases involving Miranda rights in front of judges all across America every day of every year.
The expert St. Louis criminal defense attorneys at The Law Office of Jennifer Alter-Rieken have been helping people with their legal needs for years. Our goal is to make sure your rights are protected, that you understand what your options are, and help guide you through the entire process from start to finish. The initial consultation is free of charge. Call today to learn more.