The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides many protections for defendants including the right not to “be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” In the case of Miranda v. Arizona case, the United States Supreme Court added a further protection to this Fifth Amendment right. It ruled that any incriminating statements a suspect makes against his interests will not be admissible in court unless the suspect:
- Was told of his/her right to refuse to make a self-incriminating statement
- Was told that he/she had the right to an attorney
- The waiver is “intelligent and voluntary.”
Experienced Tennessee criminal defense lawyers will seek to suppress any statements against interest a defendant made that didn’t comply with the Miranda standards. The lawyers usually file a motion to suppress the statements – whether written or oral. A hearing before a judge takes place to decide if the statements can be disclosed or should be suppressed.
Why You Should Keep Silent
The police and the prosecution don’t want to do the hard work of investigating the case. It’s easier to get a suspect or someone arrested for an offense to make a confession or make a statement that can hurt them in court. One key issues in Miranda hearings is whether a defendant was a “suspect” at the time of the statement. Generally, the right to assert the Fifth (5th) Amendment applies to anyone who is in custody – feels like they aren’t free to leave. An arrest is not required to place someone in custody.
Even if you’re not a suspect, it’s generally wise to ask to speak with a lawyer before you say anything. Some of the many ways incriminating statements can be used against you are:
- The prosecution may assert the statement is a confession. If you need to confess to feel better, only speak to your lawyer. Generally, the things you say to your lawyer are privileged and confidential. A defense lawyers needs to understand what happened to help prepare the best defense Statements to the police or anyone can be used to convict you of a crime.
- You might indicate something that can be used to show guilt. Just admitting that you were near the location of the crime can be used against you. Saying you were in a fight will force you assert self-defense instead of forcing the prosecution to show you were even involved in a fight.
- You might say something that is untrue. Often cases are won or lost based on the credibility, the believability, of those involved. Any lie can be used to impeach your credibility.
- A misunderstanding could be used against you. Most people who are under pressure (and being a suspect is pressure) tend to ramble or say things they didn’t mean to say. If the officer reads or interprets your response differently than you intended, that misunderstanding can be used to convict you.
- The officer questioning you may not write down what you say. It then becomes a question of your word versus the detective’s word. Many times a law enforcement officer may recall your statement differently than you recall it. If you don’t speak with them, there’s no basis for the officer to say you said something you didn’t.
- You might even confess to something you didn’t do. Many innocent people have been known to confess to crimes they didn’t commit because of the fatigue, anxiety, and pressure of a police interrogation. The police investigators and detectives may deny you the right to sleep, eat, go to the bathroom, or threaten you with a night in jail to get you to confess.
If the police are investigating you for a crime, it’s wise to say nothing. Better still, it’s wiser to say you want to speak with your lawyer.
If you have been charged with a crime or you are a suspect, call an experienced criminal defense lawyer. The lawyer will explain your rights. At Banks and Jones, our premier Knoxville criminal defense lawyers fight to assert your rights. We aggressively work to obtain a dismissal or a not guilty verdict. We are Ready 2 Defend You from any and all criminal charges and charges of breaking probation or parole. To get help now, call us at 865.407.2122 or use our contact form to discuss your case with a Tennessee defense lawyer.