When does your right to remain silent apply?

On Behalf of | Apr 13, 2021 | Criminal Defense

You have probably heard that you have a right to remain silent as an American citizen. The ability to avoid self-incrimination is a hallmark of the justice system in this country.

If you watch police TV shows and movies, they often start reciting the Miranda Rights — including the right to remain silent — while handcuffing someone or putting them into a police car. This leads people to believe that an arrest is illegal if an officer fails to do this, but that’s not actually how things work. 

Silence during a police interrogation is your right

A Miranda Warning is not necessary during an arrest — but it is required before an interrogation. Essentially, the police need to let you know that they’re going to ask you some questions, but that you can legally refuse to answer those questions without getting yourself into any more trouble. Society hasn’t always operated this way, so these rights allow people to avoid feeling coerced into giving up any information before talking to a lawyer. 

When will that interrogation happen? It depends. In some cases, officers question people at the scene. In others, they just arrest them and bring them back to the station, where they can be questioned while in custody. This can be legal either way, as long as the suspect knows that they do not have to answer the questions being posed. They do not have to say anything to incriminate themselves. 

An attorney can help protect your rights during a criminal case

It is very important to know your legal rights during and after an arrest. Confusion due to media is common, but you must know how the process actually works. When you’ve been arrested, stay quiet, call your attorney and wait until your attorney gets there as patiently as possible. Your attorney will make sure that your rights continue to be respected throughout the remainder of your case.