The Miranda Warning
You’re probably familiar with the standard “Miranda rights” that police are required to read when they arrest someone. Although the exact phrasing of the Miranda warning varies between jurisdictions, it typically goes something like this:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will 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. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”
As familiar as this warning may be, many people do not understand what it means. The first sentence in it may be the most important: when you interact with the police, you always have the right not to speak to them: even before they have read your rights, and even after you have been taken in. It is almost always in your best interest to refuse to speak until you have a lawyer present.
The Importance of Legal Representation
The second sentence in the Miranda warning shows us why a lawyer is invaluable when talking to the police. Even before the police read you your rights, they are paying attention to your words. It is easy to say the wrong thing, or to phrase something incorrectly, and accidentally give the court ammunition for building a case against you. Lawyers are trained to use words in a way that help can prevent you from going to jail.
Remember: you always have the right to refuse to speak to the police until your lawyer is present. If the police try to force you to speak, politely tell them you will not speak until your lawyer is present. Call your lawyer immediately.
The experienced Champaign criminal defense lawyers of Bruno Law Offices have the skills to help you defend yourself against criminal accusations. To speak to an experienced attorney about your case, contact us today at (217) 328-6000.