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What are my Rights? (Miranda Warnings)

If you are arrested, there is a lot going on inside your head at the time. It’s scary, overwhelming, uncomfortable, and life as you know it will forever change. It is hard to remember your rights at a time like this, but knowing your rights can forever change the course of your future. Everyone who is within the borders of the United States has these same rights, so use them. That’s why they exist!

Your rights have been there since the Bill of Rights was passed, but they were outlined by the United States Supreme Court in 1966 in a case called Miranda v. Arizona. This is why your rights are commonly referred to as “Miranda Rights” or “Miranda Warnings.” Every law enforcement agency carries a card with these rights printed on them in Volusia County, and the officer is responsible to read them to everyone they arrest.

When can I use my Rights?

Your rights only apply to “custodial interrogations.” Custodial means that you are not free to leave. Think handcuffs, interview rooms, and the back of a police car to be sure. If you get pulled over and you tell the officer something when he or she asks you to roll down your window, those statements are usually not protected by your Miranda Rights.

“You Have the Right to Remain Silent...”

This may be the easiest one to understand, but the most difficult one to abide by. It simply means “shut your mouth” and nothing more. You may feel that the police are expecting an answer, and that may be true, but when you tell the officer what happened (even if you deny any wrongdoing), that is evidence against you. You may also be told that if you tell the officer what happened, that the officer will either let you go, or help you out down the road because you were “cooperative.” Neither of those situations are likely. The officer is paid to arrest you, and close the case. You have the chance to fight later with the help of your attorney, who is a trained professional.

When I meet with clients in my offices in DeLand and Daytona Beach, I simply advise them to politely decline the officer’s questions. Simply say “no thank you, I will not be speaking to you unless my lawyer is present.”

“Anything You say can, and Will, be Used Against you in a Court of Law... ”

Think of an officer collecting evidence as the same as if you were going to the grocery store and buying food to make a recipe. The more items you add to your shopping cart, the better your recipe will taste once you cook it. The officers are collecting evidence and placing that into their shopping cart, and the more evidence they have, the higher likelihood they will convict you. Asking you to answer questions is the most valuable part of their recipe. Once you speak, you might as well serve that meal to a jury on a silver platter.

“You Have the Right to Speak to an Attorney... ”

I have been fortunate enough to practice law in Volusia County both as a criminal defense attorney, and as a prosecutor. I have spent over a decade reviewing cases, arguing for my clients in court, and going to trial. Before my clients choose to hire me, they schedule a free consultation to discuss their case. During this consultation, I am able to discuss your case with you and discuss options for the best possible way to proceed in your case. If you decide to hire me, I can help you with your next right:

“You Have the Right to Have any Attorney Present With you When Being Questioned, if You Cannot Afford an Attorney, one Will be Appointed to You by the Government.”

Going into a police interview without an attorney is like going to war with a water gun. The police are trained in tactics to question you. And guess what, to obtain a confession, the police can lie to you! Having been a prosecutor in DeLand for almost six (6) years before defending those same cases, I have been involved numerous investigations. I know what the police are going to try to say to you to obtain more evidence against you and I can work with you to stop that.

What you say during an arrest can be the most crucial moments of your entire life. This is why these rights are so important. Your words matter, so please contact an attorney to speak to before you say a word. These are your rights, use them.

To discuss your case with Attorney Matt Thompson, please schedule a consultation at his DeLand or Daytona Beach locations. The initial consultation is free. To speak to Attorney Matt Thompson directly, call (386) 463-4529, toll free at (877) 934-4529, or text him at (386) 337-2219.

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