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Miranda Warning: You Have the Right to Remain Silent. You Should Use It.

April 2nd, 2015 at 8:14 pm

Illinois defense attorney, Illinois criminal lawyer, your rightsAnyone who has watched television in the last 40 years has heard it: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed before any questioning.” Even though we have heard these rights over and over again, most people do not understand what they mean, as well as the importance of asserting these rights. When you are a suspect in a crime, regardless of whether you are guilty or innocent, using these rights may be the most important thing you do to protect yourself.

Where Do These Rights Come From?

Even though the exact words we hear on TV and that people hear again when they are interrogated by police are not found within it, they exist because of the United States Constitution. Specifically, it is the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution that requires police to inform you of these rights before interrogating you. They have had to do this ever since the United States Supreme Court determined it is required in the case Miranda v. Arizona. This is why the rights are often called your “Miranda Rights.” The Fifth Amendment is the one that, among other things, protects you from being required to be a witness against yourself. In Miranda, the United States Supreme Court decided that it is extremely important for people being interrogated by the police to understand that they do not have to answer questions and that they have the right to an attorney.

The Miranda Warnings Leave Out an Extremely Important Part

Remember the part of the warnings where the officers say, “Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law”? What they do not tell you is an equally important and true piece of information: Anything you say cannot and will not be used to help you in a court of law. Countless criminal suspects, both innocent and guilty, waive their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney and talk to police thinking that what they say will help them. But in most cases, it will not. This is because of a rule against “self-serving hearsay.” When you find yourself at trial months or years after your interrogation, you cannot introduce your early denials into evidence to help your case. The law does not allow it. It only allows the prosecution to introduce your statements against you, not the other way around. Also, what many people do not realize is that police do not make charging decisions; prosecutors do. And prosecutors are trying to prosecute you, not look out for your best interests. That is why it is extremely important for you to assert your rights so that you can have an attorney in the room who is on your side.

A Note about Extreme Police Misconduct

Unfortunately there are some police officers who do not play by the rules. In the Chicago area we have even historically had some police who have subjected suspects to torture to force them to confess to crimes. Obviously any person can only withstand so much, and if this sort of thing should ever happen to you then you can only do your best. In these cases it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as you can in order to take steps to obtain any evidence that remains of what happened to you.

Call the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley

When police try to interrogate you, they often take many steps to dissuade you from exercising your rights to remain silent and to have an attorney present for questioning. Do not let them get away with it. Call an experienced Rolling Meadows criminal defense attorney like Christopher M. Cosley who can protect your rights. The phone number for the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley is (847)394-3200.

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