Being arrested and charged with a crime can be a frightening experience. An arrest and potential charges can provoke anxiety for an individual as well as their family members as they seek to determine the best of steps moving forward. Here, we want to discuss what your rights are following an arrest for any crime, whether a misdemeanor or a felony. If you have been arrested for an alleged crime, please reach out to a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. If you are a family member of someone who has been arrested, you can reach out to an attorney on their behalf.
The Miranda warning
Most people have a vague idea of what the Miranda warning is. This originated in 1966 with the US Supreme Court decision Miranda v. Arizona. This landmark case requires that law enforcement officials inform any person detained of their constitutional rights. The mandatory warning consists of notifying a suspect of their:
- Right to remain silent
- Right to an attorney, including a public defender
- Right to waive their Miranda rights
- Right to know that what they tell investigators under questioning after they have been detained can be used against them in court
Law enforcement officers must issue a Miranda warning when a person is in police custody. In general, “custody” refers to the suspect being placed under arrest, but that is not always the case. The detention of a suspect and the timing of the Miranda warning can play an essential role in the case. In some cases, Miranda warning issues can change the consequences and outcome of any official criminal proceedings.
The Miranda warning came about in an effort to protect three constitutional rights:
- Fifth Amendment (protection against self-incrimination)
- Sixth Amendment (the right to counsel/an attorney)
- Fourteenth Amendment (the application of the Bill of Rights to the states)
How to protect your rights after an arrest
Any person who has been arrested maintains their constitutional rights. The Miranda ruling is important because law enforcement officers are required to communicate this fact to any person detained.
There are various times when a person needs to quit speaking to law enforcement officers and seek legal assistance. This includes the following scenarios:
- If a person has been asked to come to the police station for an interview. Even if law enforcement officials say that you will be free to leave at anytime, do not agree to any interviews without talking to an attorney first period
- If law enforcement officers are questioning you at the scene of an alleged crime. Depending on the circumstances, you may be a suspect and not even know it. Do not answer any questions and let law enforcement officers know that you will be speaking to an attorney.
- If you have been arrested and given a Miranda warning and are about to be questioned. Even after you have been informed of your rights, this does not mean that you should answer any questions a police officer asks you. Always ask for an attorney and do not make any statements until you have spoken to an attorney.
You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, this means that you will be provided a public defender. However, we strongly suggest that you work with a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney who can devote their resources to your case. Public defenders are good at their jobs, but they are overworked and are usually handling many cases at once. A private attorney will provide you with the assistance you need to handle every aspect of your case.