The Usefulness of Confessions
Undoubtedly, your own words are perhaps the strongest evidence the police or prosecutor may have when you find yourself arrested and charged with a crime. Many times, people feel that if they are "cooperative," they will be treated better by police officers, detective and prosecutors. Unfortunately however, this is not the case. Rather, a person's own statements concerning their involvement in criminal activity are often used to strengthen an otherwise weak case. Confessions and incriminating statements can make up for questionable identifications, a lack of physical evidence and uncooperative or incredible witnesses.
The 5th Amendment
Everyone has heard of their "Miranda" Rights. That is the warnings police must give you after you have been detained or arrested and are about to be questioned. These include:
- the right to remain silent
- the right to the assistance of an attorney
- a warning that anything can you say may be used against you
- an advisement that if you can't afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you.
Perhaps the most important of these warnings at the time of an arrest is the right to remain silent and notice that anything you say can be used against you in court. You should take these warnings seriously. Specifically, if you have been detained or arrested, politely advise investigators that you do not wish to answer any questions until contacting an attorney.
Did You Voluntarily Waive Your Miranda Rights?
If you have ignored your "Miranda Warnings", cooperated with police and now find your statements being used against you in a criminal prosecution, a question will remain about whether you voluntarily relinquished your right to remain silent. Police are permitted to trick or deceive you into making statements such as by playing "good cop, bad cop," lying about information they have, etc. However, there are certain circumstances where information you provided can be kept from being used against you. These include situations where:
- you may have been too drunk or high to understand your Miranda rights
- your will may have been overcome by prolonged questioning, a denial of food, water or sleep
- you may not have been in your right frame of mind due to an injury, hospital treatment, etc.
- mental illness or intelligence issues cause a misunderstanding or your rights
- police promise or imply a benefit in exchange for your cooperation
An experienced criminal defense attorney must recognize these issues and argue that your confession or statements should be suppressed.
Assert Your Rights
Again, a person's own statements are usually the strongest evidence police may have when deciding to charge someone with a crime. Consequently, if you have been detained or arrested and subject to police interrogation, you should politely decline to answer any questions and ask to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible
If you have been charged with a crime in Arizona, contact my office at (480) 833-8613 for a free and immediate consultation. I have represented thousands of individuals during the last twenty years who have been charged with offenses ranging from DUI and drug offenses to aggravated assault and homicide. I have also conducted a number of jury trials in the city, justice and superior courts throughout Maricopa County.