What Are My Miranda Rights in NJ & Can They Actually Protect Me?
Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.
In New Jersey, as in every other state in this country, everyone who interacts with the police has certain rights commonly referred to as “Miranda Rights.” And by everyone we mean everyone, no matter your race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or even your immigration status.
But what are these rights really? And how can they be used to actually protect yourself? These questions and some others will be addressed here, or we can discuss them during a free consultation when you call Clark, Clark & Noonan, LLC at 732-303-7857.
What Are Your Miranda Rights?
We’ve all seen either in movies or on TV, a situation where a police officer is told by his sergeant to “read him his rights and book him.” We’ve all probably even heard the term “Miranda Rights.” But where did they come from and what are they really?
In 1966 in a landmark case called Miranda v. Arizona the United States Supreme Court held that the police must give a formal warning to criminal suspects being questioned when they are in custody or in a custodial situation. The formal warning is a basic reminder of two very important Constitutional rights:
- Your right to remain silent; and
- Your right to an attorney.
This case did not provide these two rights because they had already been recognized as being provided under the Constitution. Rather, the Court’s ruling required the police to advise suspects of these rights before interrogating or questioning them. It also held that if the police fail to provide this warning, any statements subsequently obtained cannot be used in any later prosecution.
Can My Miranda Rights Actually Protect Me?
Yes, but only if you use them! So the first step in using your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney is knowing you have them without having to be reminded. Unlike the impression we get from movies and TV, the police don’t have to read you your rights whenever they speak to you. They don’t even have to read them once they arrest you. The only time they are required to read them to you is when you are actually in custody and you are being questioned. And don’t think that just because a police officer is asking you questions you are in custody because in all likelihood you are not.
In most instances the police are free to ask you questions when they first begin to investigate a call. In some instances being questioned inside a police station isn’t even custodial interrogation and as such your rights may not necessarily be read to you.
Second, keeping in mind that you have the right not to say anything, don’t then go and try and “talk your way out of it.” So many cases have hinged on statements blurted out before the police even get out of their patrol cars. When things are tense and the police are present it is best to keep your emotions in check and resist the temptation to volunteer information. No matter how gifted you think you are at talking to people, more harm than good comes from talking to the police in most situations.
Third, if you are being investigated for a criminal offense and the police are asking you questions about something that happened, politely tell them that you wish to remain silent until you have had the opportunity to speak with your attorney. Now most police officers and detectives are conscientious and will leave it at that. But, unfortunately we know in reality some cops may persist in asking you questions, or make other small talk with you, trying to get you to talk to them. Be polite, but be persistent. You want to talk to an attorney before you say anything.
If I Tell the Police I Want to Speak to a Lawyer Before Talking to Them, Won’t They Think I’m Guilty?
Maybe they will, but what they think isn’t important. The only thing that matters is what they know. In many, many, many, many, many cases the only real evidence is the suspects own admissions. If they have enough to arrest you, they probably will. If they don’t, then they won’t arrest you.
Remember, even when you are innocent of any wrong doing, nothing can be gained by giving the police information that could be construed to link you to a crime. The best thing you can do is refuse to speak until you have spoken to an attorney.
What If the Police Tell Me That I Can Only Help Myself by Talking to Them and Telling the Truth?
Straight up, they are lying to you! And they can get away with it every time. The courts have explicitly held that the police are allowed to employ certain tactics while interviewing suspects. They can lie to you. They can try and trick you. And they are very good at. The police have learned to play on people’s emotions in stressful situations. In many cases they have even gotten false confessions after questioning suspects for hours, aggressively questioning them, and playing good cop/bad cop.
If they are asking you questions, the only thing that can actually help you is standing on your right to remain silent, and to speak with an attorney before speaking with the police.
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