Everyone has heard of the Miranda Rights, especially in movies and television shows. You have the right to remain silent. Any statement you make can be used against you in court. You have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you.
If the police don’t read these rights to you when you are arrested, your case must be dismissed, right? Wrong.
The Miranda Rights only apply to custodial interrogations. More simply, the police only have to read you these rights if they are asking you questions after you have been arrested. If you are placed into a room at the jail, and a detective comes to ask you questions, he must read your Miranda Rights. If he doesn’t, we as your lawyers, can file a Motion to Suppress and it is possible the answers you gave during that interrogation won’t be allowed as evidence in your trial. Your case won’t automatically be dismissed if these rights aren’t read to you or if the officer didn’t tell you exactly why you were being arrested.
An officer can ask you questions on the side of the road and any answers you give can, and likely will, be used against you. The officer isn’t being friendly or just seeing if you are okay to drive. He/she is actively investigating a potential crime and gathering evidence against you. Do not give it to him/her. The best thing to do if you have been pulled over is to be respectful, but politely refuse to answer any questions. Do not tell the officer where you have been, where you are going or if you have been drinking. Do not consent to a voluntary search of your car. If the police get a warrant, do not fight or resist, but let an experienced criminal defense lawyer fight it in court later for you.
Criminal law is a complicated area and the legal team at Lewis & Ashworth have spent years studying and practicing criminal law exclusively. We take our time to spot issues on each case and file the appropriate motions for our clients. If the police didn’t do their jobs right, it won’t automatically make the case go away, but it can help you. Don’t make it easier on them. Invoke your right to remain silent and invoke your right to an attorney.