When the police arrest you, you are not automatically considered guilty under the law. This is true no matter what you might think, as knowing an arrest is for something you did will still not result in an automatic conviction. In fact, the American criminal jurisprudence system stands on the proposition that you are innocent until proven guilty in accordance with the law. In defense of that proposition, you have numerous rights that protect the presumption of innocence. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution provides the protection against unreasonable search and seizure, and you have many other post-arrest rights rooted in the Constitution, including the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments.
What Do Those Rights Include?
After an arrest, there are certain things you have to do. You have to provide the police with your name, your address, age, and date of birth. But that’s it. Beyond that, you cannot be forced to tell the police anything. The police are required to read you what is known as the Miranda warning, informing of your rights once arrested. If the police fail to “Mirandize” you, anything you tell them is inadmissible at trial. The police must give you the Miranda warning after they arrest you or take you into custody, but before any questioning begins. The Miranda warning informs you of four components, line by line, include:
- You have the right to remain silent. Once under arrest, everyone has the right to refuse to answer questions about any crime. The right protects you from having to answer questions from anyone—police or prosecutors. Once you have invoked your right to remain silent, the police have to stop questioning you.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You do not have to answer any questions, but if you are read the Miranda warning and answer questions anyway, you are deemed to have waived your right to remain silent. Under those circumstances, your answers to any questions are admissible as evidence at trial.
- You have the right to a lawyer. The police have to allow you a reasonable number of phone calls to obtain the lawyer of your choice, as well as a family member. The “one phone call” rule popularized on television and in movies doesn’t exist.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you. Your appointed lawyer will be a public defender. These are lawyers appointed by the court to represent people charged with crimes who cannot afford a lawyer. Income limits apply to your ability to be appointed a public defender.
These rights apply no matter what type of criminal accusations you face or how much evidence of your guilt the police think they have. And they are not the only rights that you have. You also have:
- The right to know the charges against you.
- The right to know the identity of the officers who arrested you.
- The right to a reasonable number of telephone calls to obtain an attorney and speak with family, friends, or a bail bondsman.
- The right to remain silent and not answer questions by police.
- The right to have an attorney represent you before you speak with police.
The Miranda warning is intended to help protect your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Police must give you the warning when you have been arrested or taken into custody before they can question you. If they fail to give you the warning before questioning you, your answers are not admissible in court. You are considered to be “in custody“ if the police stopped you and you do not feel that you are free to leave, or if the police tell you that you are not free to leave. You do not have to be arrested to be in custody.
To be considered to be under “interrogation“ by the police does not mean that they will tie you to a chair with a bright light shining in your face. It just means that the police are asking you questions. If they have not read you your Miranda rights, nothing you say can be used against you. If you invoke your right to remain silent, the police have to stop asking you questions. Even if they don’t, you don’t have to answer. It isn’t difficult to invoke your right to remain silent. All you have to do is tell the police you don’t want to answer questions without having an attorney present. At that point, they have to stop questioning you. Prosecutors cannot use the fact that you invoke your right to remain silent as evidence against you at trial.
Don’t Let the Police and Prosecutors Gain the Upper Hand
After an arrest, you need to start fighting back immediately. Invoke your right to remain silent, and then invoke your right to an attorney. Don’t talk to the police until you have consulted with your attorney, and even after that if your attorney tells you not to talk to the police.
Once you have your attorney, cooperate fully with your attorney. If that means not answering police questions, so be it. Don’t let respect for authority undermine your defense. Tell your attorneys what they need to know to give you the best possible defense. Don’t give the police what they need to undermine that defense.
After an Arrest, Consult the DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorneys of Martin & Kent, L.L.C.
If you face criminal charges in the DuPage County area, you have rights. Make sure that no authorities violate your rights and obtain the right criminal defense attorneys for the job. You want the best defense available.
Call the law firm Martin & Kent, L.L.C. They have extensive experience with the criminal justice system and will provide you with a tough, aggressive defense. They are committed to delivering the best possible result in every case. For a consultation in DuPage, Kane, or Cook County, contact them 24 hours a day at (630) 474-8000.