WHAT ARE THE COMMON QUESTIONS PEOPLE HAVE WHEN FACING A CRIMINAL CHARGE?
Are You Ever Obligated To Meet With Police Or A Detective If They Contact You Or Can You Politely Decline?
You should almost always decline to meet with police or a detective. Again, that falls into people having the misconception that law enforcement is out to help you. The cops are not out there trying to gather evidence to exonerate anyone; they are trying to gather evidence to find people guilty, to build cases against people.
If a police officer is calling you and wants to talk, that’s usually a good thing. It means that they need you or they want you to help build their case. You should worry when the police officers just show up.
When police officers show up, that means a lot of times, they have the evidence against you they need. You should never ever be questioned by an officer without a lawyer present; you have a constitutional right to do that, so why not exercise it?
How And When Do Miranda Rights Actually Come Into Play In A Case?
Miranda rights come into play when someone is trying to suppress a confession or they are trying to suppress a statement made usually by the accused person that hurts their case. When it actually comes into play, it’s far different than what most people think. Most people think that any time the police interact with you, they are going to read you your Miranda rights. That could not be farther from the truth.
The police don’t have to read your Miranda rights when they are arresting you; they don’t have to read you Miranda rights when they pull you over on the side of the highway. The only time they have to read you Miranda rights is when they intend to use statements against you and when you’re in custodial interrogation.
What Is Custodial Interrogation?
Custodial interrogation is going to be a multipart test. There are a variety of different factors that a court is going to look at when they are determining whether you are in custodial interrogation. An easy way to think of it is whether or not you were deprived of your freedom by the police. What the court is going to look at is, are you free to move, and did you have handcuffs on. It’s usually the question they are going to look at.
The court is going to look at the intent of the officer questioning you. Is the intent of the officer to elicit information from you that’s going to incriminate you? They are going to look at how many officers were around and were those officers armed? Do they have probable cause to arrest you already or are they just questioning you?
They are going to look at the length of the questioning and where it took place. Most of the time it is not going to be custodial interrogation because you are free to leave. However, if you are in a police station handcuffed and the police are asking you questions, that’s would be considered custodial interrogation.
There are a whole host of factors that courts are going to look at but for the layman, the easy way to explain it is, at any time, if you feel like your freedom is being deprived by an officer in some way, then you’re most likely in custodial interrogation but always err on the side that you’re not.
When you are read your Miranda rights, listen to them carefully. They are telling you that you don’t have to talk. It should click right there in your mind, “Wait a minute. If I have a right to not talk, talking is probably not going to help me”. Many people hear that and they tune out. They sign that piece of paper that is in front of them and they don’t think, “Wait a minute. This could hurt my case in the future”. That’s why the Miranda rights are there; to inform you that is going to hurt your case. So, the moral of the story is, don’t talk to police.