Thanks to the popularity of law-based TV shows, there are misconceptions about the criminal system and your rights. Some of these myths can be detrimental to your safety and cause severe legal repercussions if followed, and it is always recommended to work with a criminal law attorney to ensure you are as protected as much as possible. That said, don’t make the mistake of believing these myths when dealing with law enforcement.
Myth: Officers must read you your rights as soon as they start talking to you
The phrase “you have the right to remain silent” may ring loud and true for any criminal law show fan, and most people believe these rights have to be read as soon as a police officer starts talking to you. This is untrue. Known as Miranda Rights, these rights are meant to protect yourself from self-incrimination and inaccurate confessions, and they allow you to have legal representation present while you are questioned. If the rights are not read out, the court system will drop your case.
However, these rights are only read out after you are placed under arrest and taken into custody, and if the officers plan on questioning you. So this means that if you are free to leave at any time, they do not have to read you any rights, even though anything you say can be used against you if your case gets brought to trial.
Myth: You have absolute attorney client privilege
You have attorney client privilege that can be broken, depending on the situation. There are exceptions to the rule and times where your attorney has to legally share information that was once shared between the two of you. However, you should always be made aware of this by your attorney, and you should never feel as if you cannot trust the person who should be working for you.
Myth: You cannot be tried for the same crime twice
While this right is protected under the Fifth Amendment, there are once again exceptions to the rule. The protection only comes into account if the judge or jury has acquitted the defendant at the end of a complete trial. If the trial ends in a mistrial or a hung jury, the prosecution can bring upon the same charges again.
Myth: You have to talk to the police
You are under no obligation to talk to the police, either before you are arrested or after. If you are not under arrest and you feel uncomfortable, you can leave at any time. Or if you’re arrested and your rights are read to you, you can still refuse to speak until you have legal representation present, such as a Denver criminal lawyer or other attorney familiar with local laws. Doing so is not the same as lying, and will not be classified as obstruction.
Myth: Police have to be honest with you
Unfortunately, lying to get a confession is a common practice that police officers are allowed to do. Many times, the Supreme Court has upheld the government’s right to use deception, and police say whatever they like if they feel it might provoke a confession. Although they cannot use threatening words or actions to force a confession, it is important to know that even if a cop lies to you, whatever you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. This is why you should always have a lawyer present to speak for you, as they will be able to use tactics to prevent lying and coercion from happening.
It is important to understand these myths so you are protected in the court of law and know your rights when arrested or questioned by a police officer.