Your Rights When You Are Taken Into Police Custody

Many of us have watched enough Law & Order or other crime T.V. series to have the Miranda warnings memorized by heart: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided to you.” While the Miranda warning seems fairly straightforward, it’s important to understand what all it means for those who are taken into police custody, and when your Miranda rights apply.

When Do Miranda Warnings Apply?

Miranda warnings don’t automatically apply when police question you, nor do they automatically apply when you are taken into police custody. You must both be in police custody and be interrogated in order for your Miranda rights to apply. If one of these circumstances isn’t present, everything you say can be used as evidence against you.

What Qualifies as “Police Custody”?

Generally, “police custody” means anytime a reasonable person does not feel free to leave the presence of police. This could be a detention or an arrest, but most often courts find that police custody is present when an individual is arrested. A traffic stop or an officer walking up to you doesn’t necessarily mean you are in custody, but if it seems like you cannot exit the situation or the interaction with police has extended beyond what seems like a “brief stop,” exercise caution and remain silent.

What Qualifies as “Police Interrogation”?

Generally, when police officers begin asking you questions that may implicate your involvement in a crime, that is an interrogation. It’s important to know that asking for identification is generally not considered interrogation.

You Have the Right to Remain Silent.

You have the right to remain silent, and if you are arrested and police are interrogating you, invoke this right as promptly as possible. Police are under a duty to “scrupulously honor” an arrestee’s invocation of their right to remain silent, meaning they should not use force or intimidation to try to get you to say anything. It is important to know that if you invoke your right to remain silent, but then engage with the officers about the matter for which you have been arrested, you have waived your right to silence and the officers may commence questioning you.

You Have the Right to an Attorney

Police must also honor your request for an attorney. One of the first things you should do if you are arrested is invoke your right to an attorney. This right has to be affirmatively invoked, as the police are under no duty to provide you with an attorney. Further, if you cannot afford an attorney, one must be provided for you, so it is important to state if you are unable to afford one when you make this request.

What Should You Do if You Are Arrested? Contact a Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney

Be polite and cooperate, but say nothing except requesting a lawyer. The lawyers at Arizona Lawyers are ready to help you fight the charges against you. We believe that you are innocent until proven guilty, and will fight to preserve your freedom. Contact the Arizona Lawyers today to learn about your options.