How We Can Avoid False Confessions in Arizona
Law enforcement coercing false confessions is far more common than you might think. Once you’re held for questioning or arrested, you’re in a vulnerable state. And sometimes, this leads people to admit to crimes they did not commit.
The best protection for avoiding a false confession in Arizona is to never speak without your lawyer present.
Sadly, law enforcement does engage in illegal behavior at times when they’re pressured to find and convict the individual responsible for a crime. Their pressure wears off onto you and the result is tragic.
The Innocence Project reports that it has overturned 360 wrongful convictions thanks to DNA evidence and proving law enforcement forced a false confession.
To avoid becoming a statistic, learn about your Miranda rights and what to do during interrogations.
What are Miranda rights?
Miranda rights date back to 1966 to the U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. During this case, the courts stated that when law enforcement holds someone in custody, they must explain the person’s Fifth Amendment rights.
The Fifth Amendment protects against self-incrimination and provides the right to an attorney when being questioned. Since that case, now law enforcement must read your rights under this law. The Miranda rights include four key points.
- You have a right to be silent.
- What you say can be used against you in court.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you’re unable to afford an attorney, the courts will appoint one for you.
Under this law, you can just sit in silence while law enforcement asks you questions. But it’s better to invoke your right to an attorney because sitting in a room silently while law enforcement asks you questions might prove to be harder than you think.
How to invoke your Miranda rights
If sitting silently during questioning is too hard, you can respond with the phrase “I plead the fifth.” But follow up that statement by requesting that your lawyer be present during all subsequent questioning.
At this point, law enforcement should break from asking questions to ensure your lawyer is present for all remaining interrogation. If they don’t, continue to say that you plead the fifth and that you want a lawyer.
While you might think you can provide helpful information, it’s better that you don’t speculate or accuse anyone else of the crime. Wait until you’ve discussed the matter with your attorney.
What might sound like cooperation to you, might sound like a confession to a law enforcement agent. Be sure to talk to your lawyer before saying anything, even if you think that statement could help prove your innocence.
Take note of who is in the room
If law enforcement continues to ask you questions even after you’ve invoked your Fifth Amendment rights, be sure you take note of who is in the room. Your attorney can use their wrongful actions against the prosecution if your case goes to trial.
Don’t forget that pleading the Fifth does not necessarily make you look guilty. You just want to make sure that what you’re saying is not going to be misconstrued as self-incrimination.
Finding an Arizona criminal defense attorney
Even if you never engage in criminal activity, it’s a good idea to know the leading criminal defense attorneys in your area just in case you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. That way, you can request a phone call to that attorney when you’re questioned about a crime.
Our team is available to take on your case regardless of your involvement in the unlawful act. We’ll treat you with dignity and respect while protecting your legal rights. Contact us for a criminal defense attorney you can trust.