If you have been arrested, it can be a very intimidating and frightening experience. Under circumstances that you have never experienced before, it can be easy to say things that can have a negative impact on you later without you realizing it. One of the rights you have as someone who is in police custody and has been arrested is the right to remain silent until an attorney is present. This is colloquially known as the ‘Miranda Rights.’ It is called this after a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1966 determined that a suspect called Ernesto Arturo Miranda was forced to confess to a series of crimes without being informed of his right under the U.S. Fifth Amendment to not self-incriminate himself.
It is rare for police these days to omit reading out the ‘Miranda Warning’ to a suspect under custody. They should read out the full warning that you have probably heard many times before on TV or a movie without realizing that it might someday be used on you.
Unless you are very confident about your innocence and the circumstances of your arrest, the typical advice is to keep silent until an attorney of your choice is present to advise you. If you do not have an attorney, or cannot afford one, then the state will provide a public defender, who will act on your behalf throughout the legal proceedings.
If your Miranda Rights are not mentioned
If you are arrested and your Miranda Rights are not read out to you, then keep your nerve and remind the police respectfully that you have the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment and ask to contact your attorney if you have one. If you do not remain silent, but instead submit to answering the questions asked of you, any answers that you provide or information obtained without the warning may be inadmissible in court.
What should you do if you forgot to shut up?
If you have waived your Miranda Rights, perhaps in the mistaken impression that cooperating with the police will give a good impression, the less you say the better. Even if you are suspected of a crime when you know for sure that you were not present at the time, perhaps because you were in Mexico on vacation, you should simply remain silent and allow your attorney to do the talking for you. Whatever you say up to that point can be used as evidence against you when it comes to a trial unless it has been obtained without you being warned of your rights.
Don’t forget that prosecutors have more interest in getting a conviction than getting the truth. Unless you are a criminal defense attorney yourself or have had intimate experience with the way police and prosecutors can wean information out of you which you never intended to give, it is always better to be extra cautious about providing any information other than the basic name and address you are required to give to police if they ask for it.
Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if arrested or believe that you are about to be arrested
It is better to pre-empt the possibility of saying things that you never intended or could lead you into more trouble. If you have been arrested in Birmingham, East Lansing or Grand Rapids, Michigan, contact the Abood Law Office as soon as possible. The office can be contacted in Birmingham at 248.549.0000, in East Lansing at 517.332.5900 and in Grand Rapids at 616.345.0000.