More than 233 years ago, the founding fathers thoughtfully crafted the kind of government they thought would work best for the public good. Since then, the U.S. Constitution has been amended 27 times.
The first ten amendments, known as the Bill of Rights, codified a foundation for a government that serves the people by protecting individual liberties while restricting the powers of government.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution is something that every U.S. citizen should understand, especially if they are facing arrest. This amendment guarantees a due process of law if someone is facing criminal charges.
- Protection against double jeopardy
- Right to a grand jury before any criminal charges
- Protects against self-incrimination
- Guarantee that criminal defendants have a fair trial
- Requires Miranda Rights be read at the time an individual is arrested
Plead the Fifth
The Fifth Amendment protects anyone from having to testify if answering the question might incriminate them. The person can “Plead the Fifth” and not answer that question.
The court of public opinion and the judge may have a different interpretation of your guilt if you “Plead the Fifth,” but at least you do not have to say anything to make your case worse.
The Miranda rule was recognized as a Constitutional right in the 1966 decision Miranda v. Arizona. The Supreme Court justices ruled that Mr. Miranda’s statements to police couldn’t be used against him in court because he had not been informed of his Constitutional rights.
The requirement states that a suspect in custody must be informed of their rights before being questioned, so they do not make any self-incriminating statements. If he does not speak English, his rights must be read to him in his native language.
Those rights include:
- The right to remain silent
- The right to an attorney during questioning
- The right to have an attorney appointed if you cannot afford one
- The fact that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
Police have since found ways to get around the Miranda requirement. For example, before someone is arrested, police are not required to read their Miranda Rights. That means the suspect can be questioned by law enforcement officers as long as they understand they are not under arrest, and they are free to go at any time.
Once you are arrested and the officer fails to read your Miranda Rights, your statements are considered to be involuntary and are not admissible in court. If you are forced to make a statement, that too cannot be used in court.
Your Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
Once you are arrested, you have the right to choose not to speak to the police and to consult with a lawyer. If no Miranda Rights are read after you are arrested and you make a voluntary, spontaneous statement to law enforcement, such as, “Hey, I was racing down the highway when I crashed into another car. At least I won the race,” that can and will be used against you in court.
Bottom Line – if you are arrested and could face jail or prison time, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Attorney Jason Darley will explain your rights and look for any violation of those rights.
He can explore the best options to work within the system to have your charges dismissed or reduced. Calling Mr. Darley early in the process is always best because you will be advised on what to say at the time of your arrest to minimize the potential downside of your encounter with law enforcement.
This is not a time to try and understand the Constitutional guarantees on your own. When you seek the assistance of Mr. Darley, he will represent your interests to law enforcement, whether it’s a minor matter or a felony.
Any delay can hurt your case and impact your life. The clock is always ticking under Alabama law, and you must make decisions quickly after your encounter with the law.
Mr. Jason Darley can be reached at all hours for a complimentary consultation at (251) 732-7058.