The main reason why you should have a lawyer present with you if you are being questioned by police in the state of California is right there in the Miranda rights:
“Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”
Note that, by law, if you are under arrest and the police are interrogating you without having first read you your Miranda rights, you can use this as a legal defense in court. The whole point of the Miranda rights is to inform you that you have the right under the Fifth Amendment not to speak when being questioned.
However, this only applies if you are under arrest. If you are not under arrest, then the police are within their right to question you if they suspect you of committing a crime, so long as you are free to go afterwards. This is called a “Terry stop.”
Reasons for Questioning
The police have two reasons for questioning an individual:
- If they see you as a witness, then they want to get information out of you.
- If they see you as a suspect, then they want to get a confession.
However, it isn’t always clear to the police whether you’re a witness or a suspect until they get more information out of you. And you, for that matter, may not know you’re a suspect until you’ve already said too much.
The police can manipulate anything you say as a way to “prove” your guilt and cinch up the case. Your lawyer, however, can inform the court of the actual facts and can prevent your words from being twisted to meet the police’s agenda.
A lawyer can determine whether the kinds of answers the police are trying to get out of you are aimed at incriminating you, or if they are simply to gain information. A lawyer is there to protect your best interests, so if s/he feels you are being led into a trap, the lawyer can put a stop to it before you fall in.
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Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent
If you are sitting with the police, and they have already asked you questions, you can exercise your right to remain silent until your lawyer arrives. Further, if you have been answering questions as a witness, and the questions suddenly turn more accusatory, you have the right to stop answering any further questions until your lawyer arrives.
If the police threaten that they will arrest you if you don’t continue to answer their questions, you are within your right to continue to remain silent. Chances are, if they’re asking you incriminating questions, then they’re probably going to arrest you anyway.
Violation of a Person’s Miranda Rights
If the police do not read you your Miranda rights before they question you, a lawyer can file a motion to suppress your testimony – which may have been used as evidence against you to “prove” your guilt.
If the motion is successful, this does not necessarily mean that everything you said will be thrown out. Only the statements you made directly following when you should have been read your rights may be thrown out, and perhaps not even all of them.
If you were made aware of your Miranda rights and chose to speak to the police without a lawyer present, then your statements can be used as evidence. The prosecution can show that you knew you had the right to remain silent but spoke anyway.
If you have spoken to the police after they violated your Miranda rights, this does not mean you are set to lose your case. There are many elements that go into a court’s decision, including additional evidence that is put before the court, witnesses that can testify as to what truly happened, and elements specific to your individual case.
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Don’t Face The Police Alone: Call Us Right Away!
Being questioned by the police can be a harrowing ordeal, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Don’t let them get inside your head. One of the experienced criminal defense lawyers on our team can be right there beside you, ensuring that you don’t say or do anything that could potentially hurt your case.
Fill out the form to the right, or call us at 310-997-4688 to speak with one of our the Simmrin Law Group’s criminal defense lawyers. You will receive a free consultation with no obligation to retain, along with the peace of mind that comes from speaking to someone who is on your side.