Law enforcement can only arrest you if they have probable cause to believe you’ve committed a crime. If you are questioned, detained, or arrested, you have the right to remain silent. In general, you do not have to talk to law enforcement officers (or anyone else) – and most lawyers will recommend that you don’t talk!
Law enforcement is required to inform suspects they are holding of their rights to an attorney and against self-incrimination. The rights, often known as the Miranda warning, were established in 1966 by the Supreme Court in the case of Miranda v. Arizona.
When Ernesto Miranda, the defendant in the original case, was charged with kidnapping, raping, and robbing an 18-year-old lady in 1963, he was a 24-year-old high school dropout with a criminal record. Miranda confessed to the crimes during a two-hour interrogation.
Lawyers argued that Miranda was not adequately advised of his rights to an attorney and to refrain from incriminating himself. Their appeal to the US Supreme Court resulted in a permanent alteration to the US criminal process.
Miranda warnings give you the right to stop a police interrogation once arrested – and once Miranda is asserted, the police have to stop questioning you. You cannot be legally punished by the police for refusing to answer questions. Even if you haven’t been arrested, it is a good rule of thumb to simply not speak with law enforcement without talking to a lawyer first! Police officers are trained to get confessions – so if they don’t yet have probable cause to arrest you, speaking with them might give them what they need for an arrest.
That being said, it is always a good idea to talk to a lawyer before agreeing to answer questions by the police. If you have questions about this process, please reach out to us at (805) 966-4171 or visit us hayeslawoffices.com.
DISCLAIMER: This section offers a series of criminal law and personal injury related bulletins prepared by the attorneys at Hayes Law Offices. This is not exhaustive, nor is it legal advice. You should discuss your particular situation with us or with your own attorney. Our legal representation is only undertaken through a contract and not by the distribution or use of this information.