When you are arrested or put under lawful custody, the police must read you your rights before questioning you for the underlying offense. It could be a domestic violence incident or a drunk driving case. This is known as the Miranda warning, meant to prevent coerced confessions and ensure suspects know their constitutional rights.
A section of the Miranda warning informs you that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. But what does the phrase mean, and can you do anything to protect your interests or avoid harming your case? Here is what you should know.
Watch what you say
Anything you say to the police, even before the Miranda warning, may be used as evidence against you. This includes statements not directly related to the crime, such as your personal information, whereabouts or feelings. Even if you have nothing to hide or are innocent, your words could get you in trouble if they are misinterpreted or taken out of context.
Silence is key
The Fifth Amendment guarantees you the right to remain silent. You can exercise this right at any time before or during interrogation to avoid saying something that could hurt your case. Remember, refusing to answer questions does not imply guilt or a crime.
Protect your rights and interests
Your words have the potential to shape the course of your legal proceedings, and they can help your defense or provide the prosecution with ammunition. Do not say anything or answer police questions if you are hesitant or unsure about what to say.
Instead, urgently seek legal guidance to navigate the legal processes and avoid doing anything that may work against you. It will also help ensure your rights are upheld throughout the proceedings.