When you’re being interrogated by police, you are under stress and several thoughts may fly into your head, such as, “If I cooperate, maybe I can get out of here sooner or the cops will realize that I did nothing wrong.” Or maybe you are persuaded by police officers’ assurances that “if you work with us, we’ll go easier on you” or “if you really have nothing to hide, why not answer our questions?” But any form of cooperation in fact works to jeopardize your privilege against self-incrimination.
What should your response be? “I won’t say anything without my lawyer present. I want to talk to my lawyer now.”
Don’t attempt to explain your conduct that is under investigation. Do not answer the officer’s questions. Do not make excuses or try to talk your way out of the situation. If the investigation has gotten to the point that the police have brought you in for questioning, whether or not you have been formally arrested, there is pretty much nothing you can say that is going to make the situation better.
There are no magic words or mandatory phrases to invoke your right to remain silent. In fact, the best way to ensure you don’t say something you will regret is to demand consultation with a defense attorney before answering the police officer’s questions.
Express your desire to remain silent until you consult with an attorney clearly and unambiguously. The phrase “maybe I should talk to a lawyer” has been held to be too unclear, allowing the police to continue interrogating you, while a more wordy “I am asserting my Miranda right to remain silent, as well as my right to consult with an attorney, rights guaranteed by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States” is more than you need to say.
The Miranda warning that “anything you say can and will be held against you in the court of law” doesn’t apply once you have clearly stated your desire to remain silent and to consult with an attorney. All police questioning must stop immediately. If the police continue to interrogate you, any statements or other evidence obtained from the interrogation will likely be thrown out as inadmissible.
James Law Firm represents clients in the Little Rock area and throughout Arkansas who have been accused of any type of crime. To learn about your rights and legal options, please call (501) 375-0900 or contact us online.