Even a momentary lapse in judgment can result in a person being arrested and charged with a crime. Sometimes innocent people are wrongly accused of a crime due to glitches in governmental record keeping or even mistaken identity. Whatever the case may be, it is critical that people facing criminal charges know their rights, especially if they may be guilty of something.
The United States Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona in 1966 and determined that any person in police custody must be read their “rights” prior to questioning by law enforcement.
The Miranda warnings, as they are commonly known, can take on various forms, but generally require law enforcement to advise that:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one may be appointed for you.
- Do you understand these rights?
- With these rights in mind, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
If the Miranda warning is not given at the appropriate time, any statements obtained from you and any evidence secured as a result of the illegally obtained statements will be inadmissible at trial. This is a way for the courts to ensure that criminal defendants fully understand the constitutional protections against self-incrimination and the right to legal counsel.
If you have been arrested or believe that you are about to be charged with a crime, there are things you can do to protect yourself. First and foremost, do not incriminate yourself. This is best accomplished by asking to speak with a lawyer immediately. Trying to talk your way out of a situation is rarely helpful and can be a devastating mistake. Once you tell a police officer that you wish to speak with a lawyer, all custodial interrogation must stop or the statements will be inadmissible.
If you or a family member has been arrested, speak to a criminal attorney immediately. Do not attempt to handle the situation yourself. You should never go to court on a criminal charge without legal representation. Retaining a skilled criminal attorney will protect your legal rights, will often make the booking process faster and easier, and will ensure that you are represented by counsel at the arraignment. The arraignment is important because this is when the judge decides whether bail should be set or if you will be released without bail. Having your attorney in court with you from the beginning is essential to protect your rights and maybe even your freedom. Your attorney can also help you stay in contact with family and friends should you be required to post bail. Immediately retaining a competent and respected attorney can very often lead to a faster negotiation process with the District Attorney’s Office, and a more favorable outcome.
If you or someone you know is arrested and charged with a crime, keep calm, keep quiet and call McCabe and Mack LLP. We represent criminal defendants in Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, and Putnam Counties.