Can They Use What I Told the Police Officer Against Me?

criminal lawyerMost people don’t plan to be arrested. In fact, many defendants never even planned to commit the crime for which they find themselves accused. Consequently, the average person doesn’t know how to handle being arrested, meaning they make mistakes. A common reaction is to try and talk the officer out of making the arrest by pleading or offering information in exchange for letting them go. Talking a law enforcement officer out of arresting you very rarely works. Instead, you are more likely to give the officer additional evidence to use against you at trial. The desire to talk may continue on the ride to the police station, eliciting more details for the prosecutor to use against you. The question then becomes, can the State use what you told the police officer against you at trial? A Murfreesboro drug attorney offers some insight.

Your Right to Remain Silent

Of all the rights guaranteed to you by the U.S. Constitution, the right to remain silent is undoubtedly the most widely recognized right. We hear it mentioned all the time in police dramas and Hollywood action movies. Your right to remain silent comes from your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Fifth Amendment reads as follows:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Your Miranda Rights

Here is where is gets confusing for many people. We frequently hear a police officer reading someone their “rights.” People also frequently complain that when they were arrested no one ever read them their rights. Some people mistakenly believe that the fact that the arresting officer failed to read them their rights is a fatal flaw that should lead to the charges against them being dismissed. So what are your “rights,” when do they apply, and what happens if the arresting officer doesn’t read you your rights when you are arrested?

Your Miranda rights are named after the court case that made it mandatory for a police officer to inform you of certain rights if the officer plans to question you and if it is considered a custodial interrogation. In other words, a police officer is only required to read you your rights if you are in custody and the officer wants to ask you questions. Your right to remain silent always applies; however, a police officer is only required to inform you of that right prior to a custodial interrogation.

Failing to read a suspect his/her rights is only problematic for the prosecution if the officer then went on to question the suspect and the suspect was considered to be in custody at the time.  If the officer never asks the suspect anything, failing to inform the suspect of his/her Miranda rights is irrelevant.

Can What You Told the Officer Be Used Against You?

Where do you stand if you talked to the officer that arrested you and mentioned something that could be used against you at trial? The answer depends on the precise facts and circumstances; however, there are some general rules. If you were not yet considered to be in custody, and you talked to the police, anything you said can likely be used against you. If you were already in custody and the officer read you your rights first before questioning you, anything you said is likely admissible. If you were in custody but the officer did not inform you of your rights before asking you questions, anything you said would likely not be admissible. Finally, if the officer never asked you a question, but you started talking anyway, anything you said could possibly be used against you.

As you can see, the unique facts and circumstances surrounding your arrest will be important in deciding whether something you said to the arresting officer is admissible at trial. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to find out more.

Contact a Murfreesboro Drug Attorney

If you are facing drug related charges in the State of Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced Murfreesboro drug attorney at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Dinah Michael