I will never forget defending a client who was arrested for a drug charge. The client was properly Mirandized by the officer who arrested him. My client was an intelligent man…he was kind, educated and a hard worker. He was a recreational drug user who understood his rights and the importance of his rights. What my client did not realize is that if he had just kept quiet and invoked his right to remain silent, the officers would have never been able to file the case against him. My client was scared, confused and had never been arrested before. He thought. “ Just be honest,” never realizing that the information he gave was used against him in a court of law.
So, what are the “ Miranda” Rights? First, the law itself: In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). The Court declared that whenever a person is taken into police custody, before any officer questions them, he or she must be told of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent–why you may ask? To prevent the individual from incriminating themselves–in fact Miranda states that officers must tell the person being arrested anything they say CAN and WILL be used against them. As a result of the Miranda decision, as countless movies and television shows use, this is what Officers must tell those who are arrested:
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to an attorney.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
The Miranda v. Arizona decision is so important for if the police fail to advise you of your Miranda Rights, and you have been detained by the Officers, the Court in a hearing called a Miranda Hearing, could get those statements tossed out of the case. Any evidence discovered as a result of that statement or confession will likely also be thrown out of the case as well.
Countless clients have told me Officers would get them to talk by saying, “ if you just tell us what happened, that will make it better for you,” and it is simply not true. Everything you say CAN and IS used against you in a court of law, and any statement made, oral and especially written, makes it harder for your lawyer to defend you and easier for the Prosecution to prove their case. When in a high stress situation when you are arrested, whether you did it or not, STOP TALKING, and request an attorney. The police are not your friends, they are not on your side, they want a strong case against you to make their job easier. When you talk to an attorney, unlike a police officer, your statements stay between you and your attorney. Those statements are used to defend you and protect you–not prove a case against you.
Remember, the Supreme Court decided it is so important people realize their right to remain silent, please when in doubt, STAY QUIET, and contact an attorney immediately to start working on your defense and fighting for you.
You must be 18 to vote…
You must be 21 to drink…
18 to serve in the military…
BUT, did you know, police may talk to your child if they are under suspicion for committing an offense, AND YOU as the parent HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE PRESENT.
It’s amazing, when it comes to juvenile law, where I have literally done hundreds upon hundreds of cases, I see the same issue haunt me over and over again.
Kids under the age of 18, feeling pressured to talk to police–even if they did NOTHING wrong, just to get out of the police station…just to get out of the interrogation.
Kids telling police so much so, they make the officers’ job not only easy, but in most cases, the police will close out their investigation.
Adults and minors are treated the same when it comes to being arrested. They are detained, then interrogated, BUT FIRST: They are mirandized–which means people who are arrested, are told their rights.
….As seen on virtually every cop and lawyer show:
You have the right to remain silent
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a Court of law
You have the right to an attorney
If you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided to you
DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE RIGHTS I HAVE JUST READ TO YOU?
WITH THESE RIGHTS IN MIND, DO YOU WISH TO SPEAK TO US?
Now, it is NEVER okay to talk to the police UNLESS you have an attorney present. Why you may ask…well, cops know how to twist words, remember when one is arrested, police in their hearts are convinced the person they have in cuffs did the crime. Anything you say will be twisted and any inconsistency will be manipulated and used against you in court.
Now imagine a child trying to handle this level of stress…
Children by nature trust police and yet at the same time are scared to death of police–when questioned by officers, children often beg to go home, and from my direct experience, will say or do anything to go home. This is why studies conducted on juveniles in custody show that children are more likely to give false confessions, just to get out of the interrogation.
Parents, you have no constitutional right to be present for questioning, only invoking the right to silence and asking for an attorney will allow the most protection for your child.
Having a child arrested can be one of the most difficult events to get through as a parent–but there are ways to help your child defend himself or herself, always get an attorney and always advise your child to remain silent!
The author, Silva Megerditchian, is a criminal defense attorney based in Los Angeles, she is the Owner and Manager of The Law Office Of Silva L. Megerditchian. Ms. Megerditchian is a Superlawyer Rising Star (2017) and has handled hundreds of juvenile cases in Los Angeles and Orange Counties and may be contacted at: 310-443-4119.