One of the biggest mistakes that a person can do while they are on trial – or even just getting charged with a crime – is to incriminate themselves. The Miranda Rights, which have to be read whenever a person is being charged with a crime by police, say that you have the right to remain silent. The right to remain silent means that you have the right to avoid answering questions that would incriminate you. If you have been stopped by a police car, and things go downhill, this is what you should know.
- Police are allowed to ask you questions of almost any kind, and your responses may very well be used to prosecute you in court. If you openly admit to committing a crime, make no mistake about it. It will be used in court against you. Even unrelated comments can be used to make you appear unstable or violent in nature. So, use your right to remain silent. It’s not your job to make the prosecutor’s job easy.
- In court, the 5th Amendment, which allows you to avoid incriminating yourself of a crime, can be exercised by both the defendant and witnesses. That means that you don’t have to answer a question in court if it would tie you to another crime.
- The 4th Amendment, which gives you the right to refuse to a search by police or other agencies unless they have a legal warrant to do so, can help you avoid self-incrimination. Always ask for a warrant before allowing the police to search you, your car or your home!
It is important to know that your right to avoid self-incrimination does have its limits. In the State of New Jersey, refusing to consent to a Breathalyzer is also against the law. In fact, when you accept your driver’s license here, you also consent to any future Breathalyzer requests. Read the fine print.
The US court system actually allows you a lot of liberties when it comes to how to protect yourself from being wrongfully convicted of a crime, but what makes matters difficult is that we often don’t know or remember what our rights are.
Regardless of what crime you are charged with, you will need a lawyer to protect and fight for your rights. If you or a loved one was recently charged with a crime, call the law office of John W. Tumelty for a sound criminal defense representation.