Fewer things are scarier than being stopped by the police, or finding them knocking at your door, inviting you to go to the station for questioning. Numerous questions will surely run through your mind, “Do I need a lawyer?”, “What are my rights?”, and “What information should I share?” being just a few of them.
Situations like these are nerve-wracking, but you are more likely to conquer your frayed nerves if you know what to expect. For a better idea, here are some basic FAQs to guide you:
1. Should the Police Read Your Miranda Rights?
Yes and no—it depends on the situation. The Miranda rights, in part, state that a person has the right to remain silent. Otherwise, any information they divulge may be used against them in a court of law.
Therefore, the police need to read your Miranda rights before they question you for a criminal investigation or at a custodial interrogation, when you are detained at the station but have not been arrested.
Both the prosecutor and the defense may ignore the statements you made if the police failed to read your Miranda rights. The reading may also be unnecessary if you provided the information willingly.
2. Do You Need a Lawyer During Questioning?
The answer is no, not necessarily. But, it is definitely beneficial if you have one. Better yet, find an expert in the legal matter for which you need help, such as a criminal defense attorney, whether you’re in Long Island, NY or Long Beach, CA.
Lawyers have various areas of expertise and specialize in specific aspects of the law, and it is in your best interests to find someone knowledgeable of your particular case. They can guide you throughout the questioning or interrogation process, even if the police are not holding you in custody.
3. Can Choose to Remain Silent During an Interrogation?
Yes, you can. The foundation of the Miranda rights is the Fifth Amendment, which means it is your constitutional right to remain silent when questioned. However, it is worthwhile to note that the police and the prosecution will consider not only your words but also your actions. The bottom line is that silence isn’t always golden in the court of law.
A 2010 decision further ruled that if a suspect stays silent after being read their Miranda rights, but later on makes a statement, that statement may be admissible in the court.
4. Can You Say No to a Police Search and Invitation?
The answer is yes, especially if the police officers come without a warrant. As a citizen with rights, you can choose not to answer the door or answer their questions, particularly if you feel the questions may trigger incriminating responses.
However, the police may force you to open the door and go through your property and belongings if they already have a search warrant.
If the police invite you to the station for questioning, you can also say no. However, this action alone might incriminate you. A possible solution to this is to drop by with your criminal defense attorney.
While the court of law demands honesty, you also have rights that can protect you. When in doubt, get legal help immediately.