While the “right to remain silent” represents one of your most unassailable rights, many people have a few misconceptions about how it works. A lot of people receive their understanding of this particular right from media and preconceived notions. Here’s a look at what it is, and what it isn’t, when it comes to your right to remain silent in Michigan.
Your Miranda Rights
To start with, you need to understand your overall Miranda rights. These rights, or warnings, exist so you don’t accidentally violate your own Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. These include your right to not incriminate yourself, and your right to legal counsel, respectively. Miranda warnings also exist to prevent law enforcement from purposefully violating your rights as well.
You Only Need to Hear Your Rights Before Being Arrested
Many people assume an officer must read them their rights no matter the circumstance. That’s not true. Officers only need to verbalize your rights if they intend to arrest you. If an officer subjects a defendant to a “custodial interrogation,” then they have to advise the individual of the right to remain silent. Courts have noted that questioning during traffic stops do not require Miranda warnings because the individual isn’t in custody (even though they are not free to leave the scene before the traffic stop has been concluded).
You Have the Right to Remain Silent
You don’t have to answer any questions police or other law enforcement agents ask you. You have the right to contact legal counsel, and have them present before an officer can interrogate you. Even if you do start answering questions, you have the power to stop answering them until legal representation shows up.
You Must Invoke Your Right
At any time, you can “plead the fifth.” If an officer reads you your rights, you should acknowledge that you heard them, and let them know you will remain silent. It’s not enough to stay and remain silent without acknowledging that’s what you’re doing. Otherwise, it can become misconstrued as you purposefully not invoking your constitutional right to remain silent.
If you need a knowledgeable and reliable defense attorney, contact the criminal law office Aldrich Legal Services today at (734) 404-3000.