If you get arrested, you might remember that you have rights, such as the right to remain silent. But if you don’t know how to invoke those rights, they’re useless. Make sure you know exactly what to say – and what not to say – in order to increase the chances of your attorney being able to successfully defend your case.
What are my rights?
The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the Constitution grant certain rights to everyone living in the United States. These rights are commonly called Miranda Rights, and it’s essential that you know what they are in case you’re arrested.
Two of the most important rights that you have when the police are taking you into custody are your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney.
The right to remain silent comes from your right to avoid self-incrimination. What this means is that you can’t be forced to say things to the police that can be used against you in a criminal trial. However, if you say things voluntarily, you can’t later accuse the police of violating that right.
The right to an attorney means that you have the right to have your attorney present with you at all stages of your trial, including when the police are interrogating you.
How do I invoke them?
The important thing to know about these rights is that they aren’t automatic. In order for them to be valid, you have to expressly invoke them through a clear and unequivocal declaration.
If you just stay silent while the police are asking you questions, they can keep interrogating you as long as they want. If you say something like “I am invoking my right to remain silent,” however, then the police are obligated to cease questioning you.
Your right to an attorney works the same way. If you say something like “maybe I should speak to an attorney,” or “I think I might want an attorney,” the police don’t have to honor that request. You have to state clearly, “I am invoking my right to an attorney.” If you do, the police have to stop questioning you until your attorney arrives.
It’s essential to know how to invoke your rights if the police arrest you. The Constitution exists to provide you with protections for your rights, and it’s important that you know how to use them.