When someone has been apprehended, cuffed and driven to the police station to face charges, it is all done on law enforcement’s suspicion that a crime has been committed. The experience can be terrifying, leading the suspect to feel powerless and intimidated. Under these circumstances, he can end up revealing information that can later be used against him.
It is more important than ever at these moments to remember, first of all, that everyone is innocent until proven guilty, and secondly, that individuals who have been arrested and accused of a crime have rights that protect them in several ways under the U.S. Constitution.
These civil rights are guaranteed under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments. They include the right to due process, to fair and equal treatment against prolonged detainment, to protection from cruel and unusual treatment as well as from unreasonable searches and seizures, as well as the right to remain silent, to a trial before a Grand Jury and the right to legal counsel.
What Miranda Rights are, and when they should be read
Miranda Rights protect suspects who have been arrested by reminding them of their constitutional rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. The four statements that the officer must make to a suspect in custody are:
- You have a right to remain silent
- Anything you say can and will be used against you
- You have a right to an attorney
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you
Although many are under the impression that Miranda Rights are read at the time of arrest, they actually are required only after the suspect is in custody and before he has been interrogated. If law enforcement does not read a suspect his Miranda Rights, any incriminating evidence revealed in the interrogation can be used at trial.
When an officer is questioning a suspect, it is for the purpose of obtaining enough evidence against them to be able to make a conviction later. As the interrogation at the police station is often recorded and law enforcement is not required to inform a suspect of this, anything that is said can be used later in a trial.
This is why it is important if you have been arrested or detained in Maryland and in Prince George’s County to not be intimidated and to know your rights ahead of time. It will help as well to have an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to help you to build a strong defense and protect your rights.