The words spoken to a suspect after being arrested are easily recalled by anyone who has ever watched TV. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do will be held against you,” etc. These phrases announced by arresting police officers have become part of the national lexicon, but also depict some important advice that anyone accused of a crime should pay attention to.
This recital of rights comes from the U.S. Constitution, but not the actual text. It originates from a case that was decided in 1966, Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). In that case, a man was taken into custody for the rape and kidnapping of a young woman in Phoenix, Arizona. The man was taken to the police station and interrogated for two hours before providing a confession to the crimes, but was never advised of his rights.
The man was convicted of the crimes and appealed his case. His argument was that the confession was coerced from him against his constitutional right to not be a witness against himself. The Supreme Court agreed, and they ruled that from then on, every suspect taken into custody must be advised of his or her right to remain silent (among others). Now, if the police arrest someone and do not inform him or her of these rights, anything said in response to a police interrogation will be thrown out.
Along with informing a suspect about his or her right to remain silent, the police state clearly that anything suspects say can and will be held against them in a court of law. This is a big warning and should be taken seriously by any suspect. The fact of the matter is that if a person is being arrested for a crime, the police already think that he or she is guilty, and will take every step they can to prove that.
Sometimes you will hear people say that they want to cooperate with the police while in custody, and they do so for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is said that cooperating will garner good will from the prosecutor and judge, or a person wants to cooperate to prove their innocence. Once a person is in custody, the best thing to do is exercise the right to remain silent and get an attorney.
This rule of actually remaining silent while in police custody is never more important that with DWI cases. Almost immediately after arrest, or before, suspects of DWI will be asked by the police whetherthey have had anything to drink, where they are coming from, going, and other inquiries that can only lead to evidence that will make their cases difficult because everything that suspects say “can and will be” held against them in a court of law.
If you are facing DWI charges, it is important that you understand and defend your rights. One of the key pieces of your case will be when and whether the police gave you the proper warnings regarding your rights, but this is only one element of what your defense should be. If you are charged with DWI, contact us. At The Wilder DWI Defense Firm we focus our practice on defending the rights of those accused of DWI.