Even though criminal charges have the potential to change your life forever, you probably do not have much experience dealing with them. Unless you have an extensive criminal record, you also may never have had to interact much with members of law enforcement. If officers suspect your involvement in a criminal matter, though, you can expect them to question you.
The U.S. Constitution affords you some fundamental and valuable rights, including your right not to incriminate yourself. To get the most out of this right, it is usually advisable to remain silent. Still, you may wonder when your right to remain silent begins.
You always have the right
Your fundamental rights do not have a beginning and an end. Nevertheless, officers only must inform you of your right to remain silent before a custodial interrogation. A custodial interrogation is questioning that happens when you are not free to leave.
Officers must give the Miranda advisement
For your statements to be admissible in court, officers usually must give you the Miranda advisement before asking any questions. According to the U.S. Courts, this advisement must include the consequences of making statements.
You should not take these consequences lightly. Remember, because officers have the upper hand when questioning criminal suspects, you are likely to be at an extreme disadvantage. Refusing to answer questions and not making any voluntary statements may benefit you considerably.
It can be uncomfortable to tell police detectives you do not want to participate in their investigation. Ultimately, if asserting your rights is awkward for you, you have the option of requesting an attorney who can speak on your behalf.