What Rights Do I Have After an Arrest?

The famous Miranda rights, which many people have memorized from years of watching it recited in movies in television shows, was based on a Supreme Court decision in 1966. In Miranda v. Arizonathe justices decided that the 5th and 6th Amendment rights of a man named Ernesto Arturo Miranda were violated after he was arrested by police. It established that it was illegal to interrogate anyone suspected of a crime before letting them know that they are allowed to decline to speak to protect themselves.

“The Right to Remain Silent”

Sometimes when people get pulled over or are approached by police officers they become nervous and are afraid that if they do not answer the officers’ questions then they will face harsher consequences. When you are stopped for a traffic offense then the right to remain silent protects you from having to answer questions related to where you are coming from or going to, where you live, or why you’re out on the road.

A common question that officers ask is “Do you know how fast you were going?” Don’t get tricked into admitting anything. An appropriate response to this question is “With all due respect, I would like to exercise my right to remain silent and thus not comment.”

You are also protected from having your car unlawfully searched. If an officer says that they have probable cause, which means that they are justified in searching your car without a warrant, then cooperate with whatever they tell you to do, and write everything that happened immediately. This may have been an infringement on your rights.

It is wise to exercise this right when you are stopped by the police. Don’t admit to fault, otherwise, you might throw out your chances in court. Breathing deeply and reminding yourself to stay calm will prevent you from doing anything impulsive that will hurt your case.

Questions You Must Answer

You must show the officer your license, registration and your proof of auto insurance if you are stopped for a traffic violation.

Only if you live in a certain proximity to a U.S. border will you be required to answer questions regarding your immigration status while stopped for a traffic offense. Otherwise, these questions, too, are not required to be answered.

How To Exercise Your Right

You can do this cordially and immediately by stating “I wish to remain silent, and I would like an attorney.” Problems arise when people don’t do this very simple step. Don’t start giving explanations for why you want an attorney or making up things that you hope will improve your condition, and it is especially important to not resist, fight, try to obstruct justice, leave or get into a verbal altercation or even debate with the officers. You are being watched and assessed the moment they show up to the scene, so you want to be compliant but firm.

Say What You Want In Court

The side of the road is not where you should be arguing your case. Instead, do that in court, especially with the right criminal defense lawyer by your side with a proven track record who will fight for your rights. No matter how frustrated you are it behooves you to remain calm and to leave what you want to say for when you go to court.