If you've ever watched a daytime crime show, chances are you've heard someone being read their Miranda rights. By law, cops must read suspects their rights before taking them into custody or beginning the interrogation. Unfortunately, some suspects don't fully understand their rights and inadvertently waive them - a critical mistake.
Here are some things you should know about your Miranda rights.
You have the right to remain silent.
It is your right to refuse to answer a cop's questions. You can simply say something like, "I am invoking my right to remain silent." However, sometimes people will waive their rights because they believe that they can talk a cop out of making an arrest or lowering the charges. Unfortunately, this is mostly something straight out of daytime television. Cops can lie and trick suspects into self-incrimination. A cop may say, "If you tell me where the drugs are, I'll let you go home," or, "Your buddy already told me you were the brains behind it all."
Resist the urge to fall into law enforcement's traps, rush to your own defense or try to save your own skin on-scene. Anything you say or do can and will be used against you in court. Invoking and maintaining your right to remain silent can be a safe bet to avoid self-incrimination. Once you say you're done talking, the questioning must stop.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you are being questioned by the police, you have the right to representation. If you don't have money to hire a lawyer to represent you, a court is required to appoint you one. When you are being read your rights, you must indicate that you want to speak with a lawyer at any time during the interrogation. If you request an attorney, you will not be asked any more questions, just as when you invoke your right to remain silent.
Facing criminal charges without legal counsel can be a critical error and educating yourself about the criminal justice system overnight isn't possible. Be wary when reading legal advice online from unknown sources. If you do not know the identity, educational background, experience, reputation or intentions of a person who is providing legal advice, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Consulting with an experienced and reputable attorney before moving forward with your case alone could be the difference between paying a fine and serving time.