We’ve all heard it before, whether in films or in real life: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law…” It’s the Miranda warning, and it can be a bit daunting and confusing when you’re in the process of getting arrested.
However, it’s also one of your best tools for protecting yourself from a harsher sentence, and so today Freedom Bail Bonds is going to pull back the curtains on the Miranda and make sure you know exactly what it means and how to use it in your favor.
1. You have the right to remain silent.
This right gives you the option to play it safe and refrain from talking, even when being questioned by a police officer. It’s based on the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and is a way to protect citizens from saying something that could double their trouble in the future.
2. Anything you say or do may be used against you in a court of law.
This is simply a warning that any words you speak in front of an officer of the law can be submitted as evidence if your case goes to trial.
3. You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or in the future.
According to the 5th Amendment, no one can be forced to say something that would incriminate themselves. This means that if you want to wait until you talk to an attorney before giving testimony that will be written down by the officials, you have that right.
4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you before any questioning, if you wish.
The 6th Amendment to the Constitution says that everyone sent to trial has the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, the system is required to provide one for you.
5. If you decide to answer any questions now, without an attorney present, you will still have the right to stop answering at any time until you talk to an attorney.
If you “waive your Miranda rights” by answering questions other than those about your identifying information (birth date, height etc.), you can re-invoke your rights by “pleading the 5th (Amendment).”
6. Knowing and understanding your rights as I have explained them to you, are you willing to answer my questions without an attorney present?
You must provide a clear answer to this question. This is the important part of the Miranda warning, and you must indicate either “Yes” or “No.
So how do you use these rights? If you do chose to remain silent, simply inform the police officer that your lawyer told you to remain silent when being questioned by law enforcement as a form of protection. You’ll look far less suspicious than just simply refusing to talk.
As your bondsmen for Travis and Williamson County, Freedom Bail Bonds hopes you never have the chance to put this knowledge to use, but if you do, this knowledge will help you navigate the criminal justice system. Stay safe out there, Austin!