A phrase I hear often as a criminal defense lawyer is: “He didn’t read me my rights!” Many people believe that the failure of a police officer to read someone their “Miranda Rights” allows them to beat any criminal prosecution in court, which is not entirely true. While law enforcement officials do have to read your rights to you, if must only be done in certain situations. If they fail to do that, it might not have any effect on your case.
When Your Rights Must Be Read
When is it most important that your rights be read to you by law enforcement officials? It must take place before they ask you questions; however, you must be in custody and not free to leave. If you are only being investigated or detained or you say something that was not in response to a question, it may not matter that your rights were not read by a police officer. You may be asked to explain what happened or if you committed the action in question. Your response to such a question can be used as evidence in court that you are guilty of a crime.
What Rights Should You Be Told?
You have to be informed that it is your right to be silent and not make any statement at all. You have to be told that any type of statement you make can be used in court as evidence against you. You must be told that it is your right to request that an attorney be present to counsel you prior to and during any questioning. Lastly, you have to be informed of your right to request at any time that the interview be ended.
These are your constitutional rights, use them! If a police officer begins to question you, ask if you are free to leave. If you are not, your rights must be read to you by the law enforcement official. Politely tell the officer you want to remain silent and want a criminal defense lawyer present.
Protecting Yourself During a Criminal Investigation
Although it may not matter if a police officer did not read your rights to you, it is still important to know your rights and your need to exercise them. If you are being investigated by any law enforcement official, remember that it is their job to find evidence of crimes they believe have been committed. Your job is to make sure that you protect yourself and your rights, remain silent, and ask for a criminal defense attorney right away!
By: Gustavo D. Elizondo III, Attorney at Law
Garza & Elizondo, LLP
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520
1393 East Alton Gloor Blvd, Suite 12
Brownsville TX 78526