The time comes in every TV crime drama where law enforcement reads the suspect their Miranda rights. "You have the right to remain silent", and the remainder of the warning usually comes as the person is being handcuffed and placed in police cruiser. Many people, however, don't really understand what the warning means and the protections it affords. Read on to learn more about the Miranda warning and it's meaning as well as how to take that warning a step further for even more protection.
What does the warning really mean?
Our justice system, in an effort to afford those accused of crimes as much protection as possible, requires that an individual being arrested understands that they do not have to speak to the police without legal representation. In the past, suspects were questioned without being given the option of an attorney present, and often the results were unfair or unjust convictions. The requirement that this warning be read is so stiff that entire cases have been "thrown out" or overturned when it turns out that the suspect was never informed of their rights to have council present during questioning.
Protecting yourself regardless of the warning.
Since anything you say while being questioned can be later used against you in court, you must use caution if you find yourself in this situation. For example, if the police inform you that you are not under arrest, but merely wanted for questioning, you may believe that you have nothing to fear from speaking. That is simply not so. You should know that even if you are not under arrest (and have not been given the warning), anything you say can and will be used against you if you are later arrested. While it may seem unfair, the Supreme Court has ruled that people not under arrest but being questioned have fewer rights against self-incrimination than those arrested.
What should you do in this case? You must invoke your Fifth Amendment right, which gives you the right to remain silent. You must specifically state your intention of evoking this right by stating "I invoke by Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination". You may paraphrase, but whatever you do don't speak except to declare your rights and don't stay completely silent either.
If you have been questioned or arrested for a crime, speak to an attorney, such as one from The Law Offices of Justin Rickman, right way to ensure that your rights to self-incrimination have not been trampled upon.