DO I HAVE TO ANSWER ALL POLICE QUESTIONS?
When a crime is committed, Alabama law enforcement officials want as much information as possible, as quickly as possible. If you have been arrested, it is possible that police officers will start asking you questions right away. Many people are intimidated by law enforcement and feel as though they have to answer any question they are asked. However, even answering seemingly innocuous questions without your attorney present can be detrimental to your case.
THE FIFTH AMENDMENT PROTECTS AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION
Initially, the Fifth Amendment was intended to protect those accused of a crime from incriminating themselves in court. Following the U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, Fifth Amendment self-incrimination protections extend to persons in police custody. Law enforcement officers are now obligated to read you your Miranda rights before they can question you. An officer must state the following:
- 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 appointed to you.
If the officer reads you your Miranda warnings and begins questioning you, it is often in your best interest to request an attorney and stay silent. The officer will then have to cease questioning.
If an officer fails to cease interrogation after you exercise your Fifth Amendment rights or fails to read you your rights in the first place, anything you say may not be admissible in court. A criminal law attorney can review your case and help prove that your Fifth Amendment rights were violated by law enforcement.