You Have the Right to Remain Silent titleWe’ve all heard the Miranda warning hundreds, if not thousands, of times on television shows and movies.  It has become a part of our culture and even children can recite this from memory.

“You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.  Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?  With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

The wording in the Miranda warning is very clear and direct.  Let’s take a look at what each phrase means:

You have the right to remain silent:  Whether you have been handcuffed and are under arrest or the police are speaking with or questioning you “informally” at the scene of a crime, you don’t have to answer any questions or make any statements.  It is never in your best interest to speak voluntarily to the police.  The right to remain silent is a constitutional right.  But it only has value if you use it.

Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law:  Unless you are the victim or an uninvolved witness to the crime, you are probably considered a suspect.  Anything you say to the police will almost certainly be used against you as the legal process proceeds, and not in a good way.

You have the right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you:  This means exactly what it says.  You may ask to have a lawyer present and all questioning, by the police, must cease until your attorney arrives.  If you can’t afford an attorney, you have the right to have a lawyer appointed, free of charge, before any questions can be asked.  This must be an explicit request.  It can’t be wishy-washy or leave wiggle room for interpretation.  Clearly state:“I want an attorney.”

The last two questions ask if you understand these rights and if you wish to speak with the police.  The answer should always be no.  Law enforcement helps victims, not suspects.  Though the police may seem friendly and interested in “your side of the story,” it is only to try and get you to admit to wrongdoing, or lock in your version of events of the crime.  By speaking to the police, without an attorney present, you are providing them with evidence that can be used against you at trial. So always consult a criminal defense firm beforehand.

Understanding your Miranda Rights

Law enforcement may legally lie, confuse, try and trick suspects, and misrepresent the facts during an interrogation.  By invoking your right to remain silent and the right to speak with and have an attorney present during interrogation, you are looking out for yourself.The Miranda rights are there to protect people from becoming victims of self-incrimination by stopping the interrogation process until you have the help and advice of a criminal defense attorney.  In addition, invoking your Miranda rights cannot be used against you in court. You can’t legally be presumed guilty because you wouldn’t answer any questions.

No matter what the police say, no matter how empathetic or understanding they may seem to be, or how much they promise to help you, the most important thing you can do for yourself if you are in custody and being questioned, is unequivocally state, “I’m not going to answer any questions and I would like to speak with my attorney.”  This statement needs to be clear and decisive.  Then sit silently and wait for your criminal defense lawyer to arrive.

Contact Jay Mykytiuk today!

If you’re looking for an experienced Washington, DC, criminal defense firm that will fight for your rights throughout the criminal process, contact Jay P. Mykytiuk, Trial Attorney.  Mr. Mykytiuk has successfully represented individuals throughout Washington D.C. areas, so contact us today at 202.630.1522 to discuss your case.