Voluntarily choosing not to speak with the police is not a crime

Have you ever heard a police officer or special agent in a TV show, such as NCIS, Law and Order, or CSI say the words, “You have the right to remain silent. Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you,” or a version of that? Those are called your Miranda Rights or your Miranda Warnings, derived from the 5th and 6th Amendments of the United States Constitution.

Your 5th and 6th Amendment rights are very important to know if confronted by a legal situation. For example, the police show up at your door and ask you what you know about a possible crime in the area. Do you have to answer their questions?

The simple answer is no, you can inform the police you do not want to answer their questions. Put yourself in this situation. At this point, you do not know if the police consider you a suspect or if they are only searching for information about a possible crime. Voluntarily choosing to not speak with the police about a criminal matter is not a crime.

However, after you have informed the police you do not want to answer their questions, they may go away or they may arrest you. The only way they can make a legal arrest is if they have other evidence, without your statements, which is enough for probable cause for the arrest. In many instances, the police want your statement or confession to make it an easier case for the state attorney to prove. Do not help them.

Let’s assume you say nothing to the police and you are arrested anyway. At this time, the officers proceed to read you your Miranda Rights, place you in a patrol car, and take you to the police station where you are placed in an interrogation room. When an officer comes in to talk to you, do you have to answer their questions?

Still no. The same rules apply as before you were arrested. In the 1966 Supreme Court Case, Miranda v. Arizona, police questioned and obtained a confession from Miranda. Miranda was not provided the opportunity to ask for an attorney as the 6th Amendment requires, nor his 5th Amendment right to remain silent, in order to dispel the compulsion of a forced confession. The Supreme Court removed the confession evidence from the case, stating because the confession was obtained without Miranda given the opportunity to call an attorney, it was not admissible. As such, the Miranda Rights became a requirement of all law enforcement when arresting an individual.

Your Miranda Right of ‘the right to remain silent’ takes effect when you inform the interrogating officer you wish to remain silent and are refusing to answer any questions. That officer must oblige you to invoke your 5th Amendment rights and all questioning must cease immediately. The privilege of self-incrimination provides protection from answering any interrogation questions and incriminating yourself.

Now the police aren’t talking to me, but I still am in an interrogation room. What do I do?

Your Miranda Right of ‘you have the right to an attorney’ applies when you inform the interrogating officer that you are requesting an attorney be contacted and made available. Once you invoke your right to counsel, all questioning must cease until the lawyer arrives.

The second part of your attorney Miranda Rights, ‘if you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you,’ was made applicable on a state level in the United States Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright (1963), affirming indigent defendants will be granted the same entitlement to appointed legal counsel. Therefore, when you cannot afford a private attorney, the court will provide you a court-appointed attorney from the public defender’s office.

Understanding your 5th and 6th Amendment Rights is an essential barrier between you and an unjust deprivation of human rights. Our attorneys at the Law Office of Adams and Luka know this and fight every day to make sure those rights are always preserved for every client. Please feel free to call with any questions.

Client Reviews

I would like thank my attorney Thomas Luka. I knew from the beginning I had the right guy in my corner. While celebrating with family and friends at a Public Park in Seminole County, a fight broke out among various people. Myself, and a good friend, broke up the fight and the instigators left. Six months later, I was wrongly accused as the person who started the fight. The first attorney I hired could not even get a response from the State Attorney handling the case. Someone referred me to Tom and I felt comfortable at his demeanor and reactions.

After conversations with Tom, who knew I would settle for nothing less than a FULL DISMISSAL due to my innocence, I hired him. His firm of Adams and Luka did the due diligence by interviewing witnesses and the police who were on the scene, as well as starting a dialogue with the State Attorney. After gathering statements from witnesses, Tom was able to present a strong argument on my behalf to the State Attorney on why the case should be dismissed. If the State Attorney was not willing to dismiss the case, Tom was ready to take the case to trial.

The result by Thomas Luka: Case Dismissed.

I am 53 years old with a spotless record and glad to keep it that way thanks to the time, effort, hard work, and professionalism of the Adams and Luka and Tom Luka.

Earl from Mesquite
Thomas Luka left a life-long great impression of lawyers. He was always professional, on time, and answered things honestly. From the start and during the 14 months it went on - Tom was very upfront and honest with me about the possible outcomes. The result was better than I had hoped for. Tom really over-delivered. HIGHLY RECCOMEND. Marcela Giorgi
Adams and Luka were very professional and savvy in the courtroom. When you're in court with Mr. Luka you will think you have the best attorney there. I recommend this law firm. Pioneer Tech
Rich Adams is an outstanding criminal attorney. I have had the opportunity to refer several friends and clients to his practice for handling of criminal matters, and on every occasion he has produced an excellent result. Rich practices with attention to detail, a thorough knowledge of the law, and a passion to defend his clients. I will continue to refer clients to Rich Adams, and would strongly recommend him for your legal needs. Brian Pink
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