You have likely heard about the Miranda warning. It is what the police recite to you when arrested. Even if you have never been arrested, you have likely heard it used on TV shows and movies.
While you may know what it is, you may not know the specifics of it or how to use it if you are arrested. Understanding your rights and how to use them may help you if you are arrested for a crime.
The U.S. Court system has addressed your right to remain silent in detail. The Constitution’s Fifth Amendment means you (along with everyone else) have the right to remain silent and not speak to anyone – including the police – to avoid self-incrimination. While this is true, the police must only remind you of these rights before they begin questioning you.
More specifically, this applies to cases of custodial interrogations. In this situation, you cannot leave the questioning, but it is also difficult to know when you are in custody. A good tip to remember is that if you are in a police officer’s car or handcuffs, you are probably in custody.
If you are unsure if you are in custody, ask, “Am I free to leave?” The police cannot lie about this if you ask them.
Verbally invoke your right to remain silent
You likely know that part of the Miranda warning is that “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Therefore, it is potentially beneficial to you to remain silent. If you don’t say anything, then you aren’t giving the authorities additional evidence to use against you to secure a conviction.
Knowing your legal rights when it comes to being detained or arrested will help you avoid making the situation worse. Remember, you can remain silent and request to speak to legal counsel.