If you’ve ever watched a crime show on TV, you’ve almost certainly heard the phrase “you have the right to remain silent” uttered by the police to a suspect as they place him or her under arrest. This phrase is a part of the Miranda Warning which must be read to any criminal suspect prior to interrogation in order to preserve the suspect’s statements as evidence for use in court.
If you are ever arrested, it is absolutely essential that you exercise that right to remain silent in order to protect yourself from potential self-incrimination. Below I have detailed three situations in particular where you must be careful to avoid saying too much following an arrest:
1) Do NOT talk to the police without an attorney
If you have been detained and do not feel that you are free to leave or you are advised you are under arrest, then you should be informed of your legal right to remain silent. Even if the police do not read you your Miranda warnings, you should still remain silent. In every interaction with that officer or any other law enforcement personnel from that point on, you should always exercise this most important right. Even if you know that you are innocent of the charges being brought against you, you must resist the temptation to explain to the police why they got it wrong or how you can’t have committed the crime of which they’ve accused you. It is far too simple to self-incriminate when discussing your case with the police, and officers may even attempt to interrogate you in a manner which will corner you into effectively admitting to the crime, whether you are innocent or not. The better choice will always be to politely refuse to answer any questions or discuss your case with the police until you have spoken with your attorney.
2) Do NOT discuss your case over the phone in jail
When people are arrested, it is often their first instinct to call a friend or loved one from jail. You will probably want to tell them where you are and what happened. You may need to make arrangements to have your bail paid or have someone take care of chores or tasks from your everyday life which you will be unable to fulfill while in jail. No matter how much they ask, you must resist the urge to discuss your case with them in any way. All phone calls from jail, with the exception of planned calls with your attorney, will be monitored, recorded, and potentially used against you in court. Something you say in such a conversation taken out of context, or that you think is irrelevant to your case, could be twisted to discredit you or demonstrate your guilt. If you have to speak with someone besides your attorney over the phone from jail, do NOT discuss the details surrounding your arrest and your case.
3) Do NOT discuss your case with anyone in custody
It can also be tempting to discuss your case with other inmates. “What are you in for?” and “Did you do it?” are common questions you might hear. Avoid discussing your case as much as possible. The prosecution can also use anything you say to other inmates against you in court, and most people in jail would jump at the chance to trade information about what another inmate said to them for some sort of consideration like a reduced sentence or even better privileges in jail. Even if they seem like they are trying to help or just give you advice, you should still not share any information with anyone.
Without exception, the first thing you must do is always exercise your right to remain silent in every interaction with the police after you are arrested and seek out a skilled criminal defense attorney for guidance.
If you have questions or you are in need of legal representation stemming from criminal charges or a criminal investigation—both in the state of Florida or federally—please contact the Law Offices of Sabrina Puglisi right away. Stay tuned in the future for when I discuss what options you have when confronted by law enforcement prior to detention or arrest.