Understanding Your Rights During A Criminal Investigation

13 February 2015
 Categories: , Blog


With so many procedural police dramas on television, there aren't many people who haven't heard the standard Miranda Rights at least once. Even so, it's a far cry from really understanding what those rights mean. While most people won't ever find themselves on the wrong side of a police investigation, it's still in your best interests to understand those rights in the event that you find yourself being questioned by law enforcement.

Constitutional Protections

The Miranda warning has become a critical part of law enforcement, but there are many situations in which officers are not required to give it. Questioning without arrest does not require that you be advised of these rights, though police can still use statements made prior to arrest as evidence in court. If you feel that there is a chance you may incriminate yourself, or that your statements may later be used against you as evidence, take the initiative and request that a lawyer be present to protect your interests.

These rights all stem from the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which provides protections against self-incrimination. Invoking those rights, or exercising your right to legal counsel, can't be used as evidence in any criminal case, either connected to or unrelated to the original purpose of an investigation. If you choose to make use of these rights, it's in your best interests to be polite but clear in your request.

Legal Grey Areas

Probable cause gives police some room to work with when dealing with potential suspects or persons of interest in an investigation. This means that spontaneous statements you make are still admissible, if it can be proved that you were not led or provoked into making them. Any conversation you have with law enforcement personnel, whether you've been arrested or not, can be used as evidence at trial.

Once you've been arrested, even if you haven't been advised of your rights, the rules change and start benefiting police. They have the right to search you in order to ensure their own safety, and you are legally obligated to provide a true and accurate identity, including age, address of record and your name.

Any time you are held by police, your Fifth Amendment rights are in effect unless you choose to waive them. This includes being detained or held for questioning, though you are not required to be Mirandized in these scenarios. Even so, having an attorney present is your right and you can't be refused if you choose to exercise that right. For more information about your rights, contact a firm such as Devine Law PC.