When an individual is apprehended by law enforcement on suspicion of a crime, they may be too caught up in the stress and anxiety of the moment, especially if this is a first occurrence, to realize that they still have rights. Being chased by a police officer, tackled or tased is extremely intimidating and can give way to a tremendous sense of helplessness and fear.
At such times, it is important to remember that every American citizen has rights that are protected under the U.S. Constitution. One of these rights gives protection against self-incrimination, found in the Fifth Amendment:
“No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself…” (U.S. Const. amend. V).
Once a suspect is in custody, he has the constitutional right under the Sixth Amendment to receive legal counsel in his defense:
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right…to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.” (U.S. Const. amend. VI).
The purpose of Miranda Rights
Police intimidation was a factor in the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court decision of Miranda v. Arizona that mandated requirements for law enforcement officers to inform suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning them.
The four statements that an officer must make to a suspect in custody are:
- You have a right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you
- You have a right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
When Miranda Rights are read
Watching crime shows can lead many to believe that the police read an individual his rights at the time of arrest. Actually, Miranda Rights are required only after the suspect is in custody and before he is interrogated. If law enforcement does not read the suspect his Miranda Rights at this point, then no incriminating evidence revealed in the interrogation can be used in a trial.
When a police officer questions you, it is to gain evidence against you in order to obtain a later conviction. As the police station or precinct usually records the interrogation, anything revealed will be used against you in the future.
That is why it is so important to not be intimidated and to know your rights ahead of time. It is also crucial to have strategic criminal defense representation in the Phoenix area to help you build a strong defense if you are arrested and detained.