Almost every American has heard of the Miranda warning by the time they become adults (if not from civics class, then certainly from one of the many crime dramas on TV or in the movies that have drilled it into our heads). Many people can probably even recite it from memory:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you free of cost.”
And yet, despite how prolific the Miranda warnings are in media, people still seem to not fully understand their implications, particularly when it comes to the “right to remain silent.” However, those warnings are there so you know your rights, and so you can exercise those rights to protect yourself. Even if you’ve done nothing wrong, failing to exercise your right to remain silent when you’re arrested can hurt you in the long run, since your testimony to police can result in increased bail at your arraignment, or- depending on the severity of the charges against you- even be used to justify sending you to jail without bail while you await trial.
The 5th Amendment protects the right against self-incrimination, which means that you can’t be forced to give any testimony that might implicate you in a crime. Thus, whenever you are accused of a crime, you can flatly refuse to speak to the police, or assert that you won’t speak to the police without a lawyer present. It’s a good idea to exercise this right, even if you believe you haven’t done anything wrong, because it minimizes the risk that you’ll say something that the police will use against you. Remember, when the police first arrive at a potential crime scene, they usually have only the barest idea about what’s going on, and anyone could be a potential suspect. Don’t make yourself stick out by saying something that brings unnecessary suspicion onto yourself.
It is always terrible to be accused of a crime. Whether you’ve been charged with a felony, misdemeanor, DWI, drug offense, cyber or white-collar crime, it is important to have legal representation to protect your rights. If you find yourself in trouble with the police, remember your right to an attorney and give Larry McCord and Associates a call at (631) 643-3084, or fill out our contact form. We’ll fight for your rights, and make sure you get the best possible outcome for your case.