Anyone who’s ever watched a cop show on TV has heard the Miranda warning read to whoever was just arrested. This warning details two of the most important rights an American possesses: the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney when facing criminal charges. If you’re ever arrested, pay attention. It’s important.
Don’t Talk to the Police
Getting arrested is not like getting a traffic ticket—you can’t talk your way out of it. There are only two real reasons for being arrested: the officer has a warrant for your arrest, so the matter is now beyond his control, or the officer believes you have committed a crime and won’t be inclined to listen to you. As soon as the handcuffs click closed, the arrest is a done deal.
Talking to the police can’t help your situation regardless of what they may tell you. If you were arrested with someone else, they will separate you and will often say the other person is blaming it all on you. This may or may not be true, but it’s usually best to assume that it’s a lie.
You’re obligated to give the police your name and address but do not have to say anything else. The Miranda warning says anything you say will be used against you—and it will be. Not speaking won’t hurt your case. Saying too much can result in a guilty verdict. Don’t do the state’s job for them by talking yourself into prison. Many people have.
Ask for a Lawyer
Everyone who’s arrested is presumed innocent until they have been proven guilty. Asking for an attorney is your absolute right. Refusing to speak until your attorney arrives does not make you look guilty. It shows you understand your constitutional rights.
Ask for a lawyer as soon as you’re arrested. If other people are nearby, say it loudly enough to be heard. You won’t be able to call a lawyer until after the booking process is complete, but call at the first opportunity. Then wait for your lawyer.
John Scott Webb has been defending the legal rights of people in Maine for more than 20 years. When you’re in trouble and need an experienced criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Webb and his team of skilled legal professionals will fight aggressively to protect your rights. To contact him, visit www.webblawmaine.com.