You Do Have the Right to Remain Silent
Growing up so many of us were told to trust police officers and officers were all here to help us, so we should never mind talking to the police in any situation. As criminal defense attorneys, we tell everyone—and we mean everyone—whether they’re our clients, or whether they are people we have just met and are giving general advice to, never talk to the police if you believe you are the suspect of a crime without having an attorney present. The Fifth Amendment says in part, “No person … shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…,” the Sixth Amendment says, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall … have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court said the Fifth Amendment’s prohibition against compelled testimony against oneself and the Sixth Amendment’s guarantee of effective assistance from an attorney meant someone did not have to talk to a police officer without an attorney present. Since Miranda was decided in 1966, nearly everyone has become familiar with the “Miranda Rights.” Every time we watch a police drama, we hear the officer say, “You have the right to remain silent,” as he is handcuffing the culprit.
The Police Can and Will Lie to Get a Confession
It is almost never a good idea and it is almost never in your interest to waive your Miranda rights and speak to the police if they believe you are a suspect. The police are not on your side if you are a suspect. When they suspect you of a crime, they have an agenda. They are trying to build a case against you. Many times, officers will say, “Look, we’re just trying to get your side of the story, we just want to clear your name.” Officers are allowed to lie and stretch the truth to get you to confess. You can be put into an interview room and made to wait for a long period of time. Officers will take your words and twist them. They will even pretend to be on your side, but rarely is that genuine. Usually they’re trying to trick you, they’re trying to trip you up; again, they’re trying to build a case against you. As criminal defense attorneys, we can’t tell you how many people we have seen in the justice system be convicted, go to jail or even prison, who might never have been convicted if they had just invoked their Miranda right to remain silent. If you have a criminal defense attorney, they can tell you if it is a good idea to talk to the officers.
Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent and Clearly Ask for an Attorney
In general, this is blanket advice we would give to anybody who may be a suspect or if you think you may be a suspect in a crime—even if you’re innocent, even if you have nothing to hide—do not speak to law enforcement, or any governmental agent, without an attorney present. You must verbally invoke your right to an remain silent and clearly and unquestionably tell the officers you will not speak to them without an attorney. Then do just that. Even if the police do not read you your Miranda rights, even if you are not under arrest, handcuffed and sitting in the back of a patrol car yet, clearly say you want an attorney and you will not speak to the officers without one. If you are just on the side of the road by your car, or if it is just casual contact on the sidewalk, or if the police merely knock at your door and ask if they could speak to you voluntarily, if you think you may be a suspect, do not speak to them without having an attorney present.
There is required basic information you must provide to the police such as name, date of birth and address; but this may be accomplished by showing them a physical identification card or driver’s license. Beyond that you are not required to provide any other information.
Attorneys at Goheen & O'Toole can Help With Any Police Questioning
When being questioned by the police it is important to have an attorney at your side who knows your rights and how to protect them. The attorneys at Goheen and O’Toole, PLLC are experienced at doing just that in every criminal situation from the lowest misdemeanor to the most serious felony. If the police want to talk to you, we are just a call away to protect you and your right to remain silent. All of our attorneys have ample experience advising clients facing interrogations or questions by the police.