If you found yourself in police custody after an arrest, you likely panicked while officers questioned you. In your state, you might have forgotten about your rights – granted to you under the U.S. Constitution – regarding self-incrimination and access to counsel. Yet, the officers might have neglected to inform you of them. If they failed to, their actions could change the outcome of your case.
Understanding your rights
Before police officers can interrogate you, they must inform you of your rights. These are often called Miranda rights, due to a landmark 1966 case, Miranda v. Arizona, that established officers must read these to individuals in custody. Yet, these rights existed before this case, and the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution grant them to all citizens.
When officers advise you of your Miranda rights, they must inform you of your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent – and that anything you say can and will be used against you in court. Furthermore, they must inform you of your Sixth Amendment right to an attorney, and that you will have one appointed for you if you cannot afford one. And the officers must also inform you that if you choose to speak to them, you have the right to stop at any time.
Protecting your rights
If officers failed to read you your rights, any statements you provided them – or confession you made – will count as involuntary. Any evidence discovered by officers, in this case, will also be inadmissible in a court of law. Neither, then, are usable against you in your case, and the court will likely dismiss them.
If you were not read your Miranda rights in police custody, you must consider your options for protecting yourself. You will want to consider consulting a criminal defense attorney, who can help you fight to dismiss any involuntarily confession, evidence or statements from your case.