An arrest or interrogation by police is a frightening experience. Most people are understandably eager to assert their innocence in this situation, but talking can do more harm than good. Protecting yourself by invoking your Miranda rights is often a better approach.
While you might be familiar with the term Miranda rights, many people in New Hampshire do not have a solid grasp on how they actually work. Your Miranda rights are actually two different rights, the first being your right to stay silent during an interrogation. The second is your right to have a lawyer present.
How to invoke your right to remain silent
During an arrest or prior to an interrogation, police must explain your Miranda rights. After police read you your rights, police may continue with questioning even if you remained silent after. This is because the only way to invoke your rights is to do so clearly and explicitly. Rather than remaining silent, you should use phrases such as:
- I am invoking my Miranda right to remain silent
- I am exercising my right to remain silent
- I want to remain silent
- I will only speak when I have an attorney present
It is best to avoid vague statements, including suggesting that you think it would be better if you did not answer any questions. The Supreme Court has ruled that ambiguous statements do not count as invoking your rights. Keeping statements clear, concise and in the present is best.
What happens after you invoke your right
Once you clearly invoke your right to remain silent, all questions and interrogations must stop. This means that police cannot wait a few minutes and then start questioning again. Investigators also cannot switch out after you invoke your right to remain silent, because that right is not specific to the individual who was questioning you at the time.
Unfortunately, police will sometimes ignore your right to remain silent and continue questioning you. This is a violation of your Miranda rights. If you make a statement during this subsequent questioning, it will not be permissible in court.
Why stay silent?
The average New Hampshire resident is not a legal expert. This means that it might be easy to make an unintentionally incriminating statement when talking with police. Remaining silent gives you the opportunity to secure legal counsel while also minimizing the risk of making statements under fear or duress.
It does not matter what crime police have accused you of committing, you deserve the opportunity to create a strong criminal defense foundation. Building that defense can be much more difficult when police ignore your Miranda rights. Whether police have already interrogated you or you anticipate them questioning soon, you might want to first explore your options for speaking with a knowledgeable attorney.