What are the so-called Miranda rights? You’ve heard it in every cop show and movie – “You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you; you have the right to an attorney….” Then, some smart aleck either says something like – “I know my rights and you can’t tell me what to do!” Or, they start to spill their guts about everything from the day they were born to crimes they didn’t even imagine committing. Off they go to prison for a crime they may not have even committed.
You’ve probably also heard the phrase – “anyone who represents himself has a fool for a client.” True, more often than not. Although many people are very sharp and intelligent (even street smart), people can often lose clarity of thought during a police encounter.
It is wise to be polite and respectful with police officers. However, depending upon the circumstances, it may be very unwise to say more than your name and provide proper identification. An honest but inconsistent statement made while under the stress of a traffic stop, phone call, arrest, confinement or interrogation could result in a criminal conviction with jail or prison time and other negative consequences.
After hearing your Miranda rights, the wisest thing to do may be to clearly say to the police that you want to talk to an attorney before you answer any questions. After careful evaluation of the facts and the charge, your attorney may advise you to remain silent or to answer questions and cooperate with the police (usually with the attorney’s presence).
Criminal defense attorneys know much more about the laws and procedures than the average person. A good attorney will work diligently to protect your rights and may even be able to help you avoid being arrested, charged or prosecuted at all. Good legal representation is an invaluable investment.
Always consult with a qualified, criminal defense attorney about the specific facts of your case.