What You Don’t Know About Your Right to Remain Silent COULD Be Used Against You in a Court of Law
Everyone knows Miranda … or at least what they’ve seen about it on TV.
Whether you’re watching Law & Order or Hill Street Blues, you’ll hear a police officer warn the suspect that he has the right to remain silent as soon as they put the handcuffs on. But is that really how it works?
You’ve seen enough TV to have some sense of your Miranda rights. You’re entitled to them under the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution, so it doesn’t matter if you were arrested in Miami, Key West, or in the middle of Broward County.
If you’re arrested under suspicion of having committed a crime, then:
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can be used against you.
You have the right to be represented by an attorney.
If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.
These rights—for people in custody who are questioned about a crime—have been recognized since the U.S. Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona in 1966.
But there are a few things you won’t pick up from the TV, and it’s critical to avoid traps that could lead you to incriminate yourself. Here’s what you should remember.
1. Stop talking. Just because you starting talking to a police officer doesn’t mean you need to keep doing it. You have the right to invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent at any time. Do it the second a police officer asks you a question.
2. Invoke your Fifth Amendment right even if you’re not under arrest. If the cops haven’t read your Miranda rights, that doesn’t mean that what you say—or don’t say, if you’re silent—is protected. Miranda only kicks in when you’re being questioned in custody. Cops don’t need to read you your rights unless they are arresting you or placing you into custody.
That’s why police officers will often tell you that you’re not under arrest, that you’re free to leave, and that they just want to ask you a few questions. Even though they haven’t said “Miranda,” anything you say can be used against you. And if you’re quiet, without expressly saying that you invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and your silence could be used against you!
Those cop shoes we talked about? Notice I didn’t say NYPD Blue. Because that’s an example of a police show that tried to show that cops will often try to avoid giving you a Miranda warning.
3. Invoke it out loud! Under the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions in Salinas v. Texas and Berghuis v. Thompkins, your silence can be used against you by the prosecutors if you do not specifically acknowledge and invoke your Fifth Amendment right. So say it out loud: “I invoke my Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and to have my criminal defense lawyer present.”
4. Don’t accidentally waive your right. Even if you’ve invoked your right to remain silent, you could waive it if you start talking to the police sometime later. Don’t blow it by chatting with cops, especially if they’ve said they just want to talk about something else or want you to feel free to unload.
5. Make sure your criminal defense attorney is there during questioning. You have a right to have your defense attorney present. Use it! Especially when they’re telling you you’re not under arrest. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can provide advice and protection to best safeguard your rights and your freedom.
If you’ve been arrested—or even just questioned—in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, or Monroe County, Florida, you might be unsure how to select the right criminal defense lawyer. To understand what you should ask, read “Five Questions to Ask a Lawyer: Your Guide to Choosing a Criminal Defense Attorney in Miami.”
And no matter what, invoke your Constitutional, Fifth Amendment right to remain silent!
Increase your knowledge! If you want to know more about how to resolve the problems you face when charged with a criminal offense in Florida, then you can follow Miami Criminal Attorney Albert M. Quirantes on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+.
If you have any questions about this or any other criminal accusation, call Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer Albert Quirantes at: 305-644-1800 or visit our homepage www.CriminalDefendant.com for a direct link to the office or a text message or a map and directions to our office.