Your Right to Remain Silent: Why It Matters and When to Use It
A Right to Protect
We hear a lot about our right to remain silent in the movies and on TV, and perhaps it is one of the most well-known rights we have. But the scope of this right and the specific situations under which it protects us are less publicized. Consequently, few people take advantage of this right when it counts most. In fact, many people believe that unless their rights are read, they cannot be arrested. To help you fearlessly defend your right to remain silent, here’s why it matters and when you should use it.
Why Your Right to Remain Silent Is Important
Your right to remain silent can protect you from self-incrimination. This means it gives you the right to withhold information that would be held against you. That said, this right is extremely important to use when you are detained, arrested, and interrogated (i.e. questioned). Without getting information directly from you, the police must resort to other evidence and witnesses to gather what’s needed for the prosecuting attorney to file charges.
Use it or Lose It
You should know you do not have to answer any questions the police ask you. If you refuse to answer their questions, you could indeed be arrested, but at that point, you can also invoke your right to remain silent and lawfully protect yourself from self-incrimination. Furthermore, what a person says can be used against them during a legal proceeding –it is not hearsay. That means an officer can testify that you said something without any corroborating evidence if it happens prior to a custodial interrogation.
Once you’ve been arrested, the officer might read your rights if he or she plans on interrogating you. After that point, if you fully understand your rights and choose to answer the questions anyway, your answers can be held against you. As an almost absolute rule, you should never answer an officer’s questions, even after having your rights read to you. Why? It pretty much means there is something that they still need to know that they do not know. And your chance of providing them with this missing information is probably pretty high. So why do it?
Defending Your Rights
Your right to remain silent is not a courtesy. It is a constitutionally protected right that is vital to the maintenance of a just legal system. It is also a very good idea. If you have been arrested and have questions about your rights, consult with an experienced Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney. An attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your arrest and advise you on whether your rights were violated. A seasoned attorney can also make sure whatever you said when interrogated isn’t unlawfully held against you.
If you’ve been arrested and need a legal advocate in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys is here to help. JBabb – Criminal Defense Attorneys will advise you on the best course of action. With law offices in Dallas and Denton, our attorneys provide compassionate legal services to Dallas, Collin, Denton, Ellis, Rockwall and Tarrant counties. Our experienced attorneys handle a wide variety of criminal cases including DWI/DUI, assault/family violence, and other misdemeanors and felonies. Call (214) 329-9433, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a consultation with a Dallas-Fort Worth criminal defense attorney.