March 27, 2023

You have the right to remain silent – use it

Most people never think about getting arrested. Most never are. So most never think about the need for a criminal defense attorney until they get caught up in something beyond their control, such as a seemingly simple arrest for DUI, Assault-Domestic Violence, or other criminal charge.

But it’s something you should think about, so you know what to do when facing arrest.

And the first thing you absolutely must do – the very first thing, before making a phone call, posting bond, hiring a criminal defense attorney and going to court – is the simplest thing, yet the one thing most people fail to do: Shut up.

Yep. Politely Clam up. Zip it. Silence it. Do not say anything – except ask for an attorney.  And the good news is the jury will never be told that you exercised your right to remain silent and requested an attorney.

But people talk. It’s their nature perhaps. People want to explain themselves, want to justify or excuse their actions, want to apologize or defend themselves.

And police are willing to lead you right along. But you should not fall for it. You are under no obligation to speak with them. You are under no obligation to provide them with evidence against you. You are under no obligation to help them convict you of DUI or any other crime.

The U.S. Constitution says so.

And criminal defense attorneys in every state agree silence is a good idea. A Utah Criminal Defense blog put it this way: “It is important to remind you that under no circumstances should you talk to the police. … Refusing to talk to the police does not mean you’re guilty of anything; in fact, it shows you’re looking out for your best interests.”

While police should respect this, many often do not. And while you may think police must always read us our rights, don’t be so sure. The criminal defense blog, says when, where and how police question you is important to that decision.

“If you … make an unsolicited admission to a crime, you may be stuck with that admission,” it says, before adding that you don’t have to be arrested or even in police custody to assert your right to remain silent. “There are many circumstances … where the police may attempt … to obtain an incriminating statement from you. If you do not fully understand your rights … you may mistakenly seal the prosecution’s case against you.”

And according to a criminal defense attorney’s blog from Las Vegas, courts are narrowing the instances in which the warning is required, redefining the definition of custody to the detriment of the accused person. In one case, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that armed police officers did not have to read a prison inmate his rights before questioning him because he was not in their custody.  “You would hope that it would be obvious when a person is in ‘custody’ and when they are not. If it is seemingly a very close call … it seems a better policy to require the warning. But this is not the way the Supreme Court views the issue.”

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