No one really likes to think about facing criminal charges in a Maryland court. Especially if you have never navigated the criminal justice system, facing criminal allegations can be one of the most stressful, challenging experiences of your life. You may have a lot riding on the outcome as well and, depending on how strong a defense you have, your very freedom may be at stake.
A key to avoiding conviction often lies in how well you understand your rights and how well you can recall the details of the events leading up to and following your arrest. More specifically, it's critical that you remember whether the officer informed you of your Miranda rights before investigators questioned you.
Four pieces of information you have the right to know
If a Maryland police officer pulls you over in a traffic stop, then asks to search your vehicle, or if an officer approaches at another location, such as your home, you may start to worry right away about whether you're going to jail. Certain issues may exacerbate those fears, such as if you had a beer or two before getting behind the wheel of a car or there's been a domestic disturbance of some kind at your house. The following information can help you protect your rights if you wind up facing criminal charges:
- If a Maryland police officer has arrested you, no investigators may question you without first informing you of your Miranda rights.
- An officer must tell you that you can invoke the Fifth Amendment and choose to not speak unless a criminal defense attorney is present on your behalf.
- Law enforcement must also inform you that if you do speak, prosecutors may later try to use what you say against you in court. This goes for anything you do during or following the arrest process as well.
- In addition to informing you that you have the right to remain silent, an officer must also verbally inform you of your right to hire legal support and also that the court will appoint an attorney for you if financial constraints prevent you from being able to hire one.
In the past, the court has dismissed many Maryland criminal cases when defendants could show that they were not properly informed of their Miranda rights before they were interrogated following their arrests. There may be several defense options available to you regarding your Miranda rights or some other process issue, such as violation of your Fourth Amendment rights that protect you from unlawful searches or seizures. By taking advantage of available support resources, you can increase your chances of obtaining a positive outcome.