Understanding Your Miranda Rights

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After being arrested, if you are taken into custody, law enforcement cannot question you without first reading your Miranda rights to you. It is important to note that the police are only required to read your Miranda rights if they intend to interrogate you under custody.

Police can arrest you without reading your rights to you but if they later decide to interrogate you, your rights must be read to you at that time. It is very important to understand what these rights mean. How you act and what you say following an arrest can have a huge impact on your case.

Miranda Rights

When a police officer reads your Miranda rights, the following must be included:

  1. You have the right to remain silent;
  2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law;
  3. You have the right to an attorney;
  4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you;
  5. “Do you understand the rights I have just read to you?”;
  6. “With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”

Once a police officer has read your Miranda rights, you do not have to speak to the police officer or answer any questions until you speak to your lawyer first. An arrest can be very confusing and scary, and oftentimes people say things they do not mean or phrase their sentences incorrectly. Prosecutors, who have full access to all police reports, will use anything you say against you and will try to make you appear guilty. To keep this from happening, you can politely tell the officer that you understand your rights and wish not to speak to them until you have an attorney present.

Miranda also includes your right to an attorney. Legal representation in criminal cases is very important. A criminal defense attorney knows what to expect from the prosecution and will use this knowledge to defend you during your arrest and interrogation process.

What if the Police Officer Failed to Read Me My Miranda Rights?

If the police failed to read you your Miranda rights, once you are placed under arrest, anything you said in response to being questioned most likely cannot be used as evidence against you in court. Any evidence discovered as a result of your statement or confession will also likely be thrown out of the case. However, it is important to keep in mind that you will not automatically win your case just because the police failed to read you your Miranda rights.

Contact a Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you believe that your Miranda rights have been violated or want to invoke your right to counsel after an arrest, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today. If a police officer failed to read you all of your rights, this could have a substantial impact on your case and could even lead to a dismissal of any charges against you. If you need an experienced attorney who will help you through the interrogation process and represent you in court proceedings, the Skinner Law Firm can assist you. Please call our office today at 610-436-1410 or schedule a consultation online.

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A DUI Arrest Is Not a DUI Conviction

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It might seem as if once the police stop and charge you with driving under the influence, your conviction is a foregone conclusion. That, however, simply is not the truth. You have rights, and the police have standards of proof. Between the two, you might avoid a conviction after a DUI charge.

First things first: The police cannot stop you for no reason. To make a stop requires probable cause to believe that an offense of some kind has taken place. While the standards for probable cause are low—obvious safety equipment failures such as headlights, tail lights, and brake lights, or erratic driving that indicates you are under the influence of alcohol all qualify—the police still must have probable cause and, at trial, show that they did.

Police have other hurdles of proof. To overcome them, the police often rely upon several means of showing you were under the influence, including:

  • Field sobriety tests: There are standard “field tests” that police almost everywhere use to help establish if you are impaired. These include walking heel to toe along a straight line, reciting the alphabet (or portions of it), standing on one foot, and other subjective tests that are open to the interpretation of the officer on the scene. The tests are often impossible to pass because of that subjectivity, but they are not required. You can refuse to take such tests.
  • Breathalyzer tests: These are generally required by state implied-consent laws. You can refuse, but it might not do you much good at trial and you will face administrative penalties, such as license suspension and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device. Nonetheless, these tests are not always reliable.
  • Blood tests: While more reliable than breathalyzer tests, even blood tests have shortcomings. Everything depends upon the accuracy of the process. If samples are not handled correctly or equipment not properly maintained and calibrated, the tests are not valid.

Put simply, you are not defenseless. If a police officer stops you, you always have your Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate yourself. You do not have to consent to a search of your vehicle without a warrant. Police can’t require you to answer any questions or incriminate yourself in any way, such as by taking so-called field sobriety tests. Furthermore, you can challenge the tests that the law requires you to take, or you can challenge administrative penalties imposed because you refused to take those tests. In short, you have options.

If You Face DUI Charges in the Philadelphia Area, Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys of the Skinner Law Firm

If police arrested you on DUI charges in the Philadelphia area, consult a criminal defense attorney to explore your options. A charge is not a conviction. Police might have incorrectly conducted your stop or otherwise violated your rights. An attorney can find other ways to challenge the charges, as well. The attorneys at The Skinner Law Firm can help. Reach us at (610) 436-1410 or through our online contact form.

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Michael Skinner
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