What Are My Rights After an Arrest?
Being arrested may be a frightening and anxiety-provoking experience. Depending on the circumstances, a person is likely to have many questions: how to behave, what might happen next, or whether to say anything. There is a “right to remain silent,” but can silence be used against the arrestee later?
If you are arrested, speak to an experienced Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
In 1966 the U.S. Supreme Court decided Miranda v. Arizona. This landmark case requires law enforcement to inform detained suspects of their constitutional rights. The Miranda warning consists of notice to the suspect of:
- The right to silence;
- The right to an attorney, including a public defender;
- The right to waive their Miranda rights; and
- What they tell investigators under questioning, after their detention, can be used in court.
Law enforcement must issue the Miranda warning when a person is in police custody. While “custody” usually means the suspect has been placed under arrest, that is not always the case. Furthermore, determining whether someone is in custody and the timing of the Miranda Warning can have important and even outcome-changing consequences for any future criminal proceedings.
The Miranda warning exists because of three constitutional rights:
- Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination);
- Sixth Amendment (right to counsel); and
- Fourteenth Amendment (application of the Bill of Rights to the states).
Someone who has been arrested may have the impulse to explain themselves, or their perspective of the events, to law enforcement. Never do so, because such statements are likely to be used against them. The far better option is to wait and tell their side of the story to their defense lawyer. The lawyer will then advocate for them in the courtroom, where the defendant’s story will matter most.
Protect Your Rights
A person who has been arrested maintains their Constitutional rights, and Miranda is an important case because law enforcement is required to communicate that.
It is common for someone who has just been arrested to feel scared and distressed. However, their actions before, during, and after the arrest may all be potentially critical to their case. If you find yourself in any of the following situations, contact the Skinner Law Firm right away:
- You have been asked to come to a police station for an interview. Regardless of any assurances from law enforcement that you will be “free to leave at any time,” do not agree to any type of interview without speaking to a lawyer first.
- Law enforcement and investigators are questioning you at the scene of a crime. Depending on the circumstance, you may be suspected of criminal activity without even realizing it. Do not answer any questions and instead ask to speak with your lawyer.
- You have been arrested, given a Miranda warning, and are about to be questioned. Even if you have been informed of your rights, that does not mean you should answer questions. Ask for a lawyer, and do not make any statements until you have spoken to them.
West Chester, Pennsylvania Defense Lawyer
The Skinner Law Firm has experience defending the Constitutional rights of our clients. You have the right to remain silent, and your future may depend on whether you exercise that right. If law enforcement wants to talk to you, talk to us first. Call us at (610) 436-1410 or online and schedule a free consultation and review of your case.