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Using Your Right To Silence While In Custody

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If you have been arrested, you should know that you can invoke your right to silence at any time. This right exists primarily so you can have an effective defense against criminal charges by not incriminating yourself, and so that you can benefit from legal counsel.

It Is Part of the Constitution

The 5th amendment of the US constitution gives you the right to remain silent, and the 6th amendment gives you the right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Those two rights are extremely important to every citizen.

Unfortunately, people often forget what they might have learned in civics class, or they never had the opportunity to learn about their legal rights, and this can hurt them. That is why the Miranda warning is supposed to be given anytime you are in police custody and are about to be questioned about a crime.

The Miranda Warning Is to Inform You of Rights You Already Had

The Miranda rule is a basic warning that informs you of your rights to remain silent, consult with an attorney while answering questions, and if you can't afford one, to be appointed with one by the court. It came about as a result of a court ruling, but many police feel that by using it properly, it harms a criminal investigation, so they may try to circumvent it in various ways.

In the original case Miranda vs. The State of Arizona, it was found that criminal suspects should be informed of their rights, and certain evidence was found to be inadmissible in court due to this. Ironically, the defendant Ernesto Miranda was eventually convicted of rape and murder, the crimes he was accused of in the beginning, so evidence and the Miranda rule do not prevent justice. They enhance it, by making the process fairly weighted on both sides.

To Invoke It, You Must Verbalize It

To invoke your right to silence, you will need to verbalize it and then stick with your decision for it to be effective. You can say something like: "I do not want to talk until I have a lawyer present." Unfortunately, you may have to state this more than once, like a broken record.

You Should Always Talk to a Defense Attorney First

If you are guilty and want to make things right, do yourself a favor. Talk to your defense lawyer first before making the confession. If you can't afford one, the judge will appoint one, so be patient. A lawyer can use the promise of your confession to help get some charges dropped or lowered in a plea agreement.

If you are innocent, but do know some information, your attorney can advise you on how to answer questions in a way that does not incriminate you. They can also access the evidence that the police have against you and give you have a more accurate idea of the case against you.

So remember, your rights to silence and legal counsel are constitutional. These things were written and instituted as protection for all citizens, including you.