The right to be free from self-incrimination (also referred to as the right to remain silent rather than admit to criminal wrongdoing) is a bedrock principle of American jurisprudence, found in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The fact law enforcement has to tell you about your right to remain silent, along with your rights to representation during questioning, came about in the case of Miranda v. State of Arizona. Since 1966, law enforcement must tell you about your rights if two factors are present:
- You are in custody; and
- You are about to be interrogated or interviewed about a crime.
When these two factors are present, law enforcement must read you your Miranda rights: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can 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 appointed to you before questioning if you wish."
You Have the Right to an Attorney
Think about this for a minute. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled you have to be told before questioning that you have the right to an attorney. If the Supreme Court thinks this is that important, perhaps you should consider waiting until you have an attorney by your side before answering any questions. This is a powerful and important right - but only if you exercise that right. Do not speak to the police without an attorney present.
If You Cannot Afford an Attorney, One Will be Appointed by the Court
Consider this. Not only does the Supreme Court of the United States think your right to an attorney is so important they make law enforcement tell you about this right, they will actually appoint an attorney to represent you if you cannot afford one. This should illustrate to you how very important having an attorney is. It is not uncommon for law enforcement to tell you they can speak to the judge on your behalf, or perhaps can work out a favorable deal for you.
Understand this: Law enforcement does not work on behalf of defendants in the criminal justice system. That's the job of an attorney. Law enforcement has been known to misrepresent facts to get you to confess. This is why you need an attorney on your side, advocating for you.
If You Have Been Contacted By Law Enforcement
If you have been contacted by law enforcement, or if you have been charged with a crime, you need an attorney on your side. Kensley R. Bennett, Esq. has the experience you need. Contact us for a free consultation. We can speak with you about your case and discuss your options. Perhaps speaking with the police is in your best interest. Perhaps it is not. Only a review of the facts by a qualified criminal defense attorney will let you know for certain. Contact us today.