Police can lie to and manipulate people in order to conduct investigations into criminal activities. From pretending to help someone whom they claim to believe to tricking people to letting them into their houses, police will often say whatever they need to if they want to talk to someone or look around their home.
If people dealing with law enforcement officers don’t understand and stand up for their own rights, the police that they deal with will likely happily tread all over them. In most cases, pushy tactics and leading questions don’t violate someone’s civil rights, just basic human decency.
However, there are circumstances in which police violate someone’s rights in their investigation. Your Miranda rights, in particular, may play a role in the early investigation and any questioning you face by law enforcement. Violations of these rights could have a significant impact on your criminal defense options and how much evidence the state has to use against you.
What are your rights, and when should you hear them?
Many people can recite the basic Miranda rights from memory at this point due to popularity of police procedural shows on television, which often show cops rattling off the Miranda warning while putting someone in handcuffs or into a police vehicle.
Your basic rights include the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney, even if you can’t pay for one yourself. Police must advise you of your Miranda rights before they question you while you are under arrest. They do not have to advise you of those rights at the time that they arrest you or if they question you casually as part of the investigation before they place you under arrest. What you say before you get arrested could hurt you just as much as anything you say while under arrest.
What can a violation of your Miranda rights mean for your defense?
If police knowingly violate your Miranda rights and you can convince the courts that they did so, you may be able to exclude any confession or testimony made due to the violation of your Miranda rights. Proving such a violation occurred and arguing for the courts to ignore evidence or a confession obtained by police can play a role in a criminal defense strategy.