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You probably know from Hollywood movies that you have a right to remain silent when contacted by the police, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Drug Enforcement Agency (FBI), Immigration & Customs Enforcement and other law enforcement officials, units and agencies.
But how true is that when (a) you are being under arrest on suspicion of having committed a crime, (b) the law enforcement has a warrant to arrest you, or (c) they have the warrant to search your house? In what situations you can and cannot exercise your right to remain silent?
This is the question we asked our San Francisco criminal defense attorney from the Okabe & Haushalter law firm.
You may be surprised to hear this, but nearly half of those arrested on suspicion of committing a crime in San Francisco and elsewhere in California significantly exacerbate their situation and reduce their chances of successful criminal defense by not understanding their Miranda rights. Or, in other words, their right to remain silent and refuse to talk to or answer questions asked by law enforcement.
Here is the thing: while it may seem as if trying to explain yourself and trying to prove that you are innocent when the cops show up is the best way to avoid an arrest or legal trouble, it never – we repeat: never – helps. The police and other law enforcement agents in California are trained to probe and ask certain questions to get suspects to crack.
But never should you ever talk to the cops and other law enforcement agencies without consulting with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in San Francisco or elsewhere in California.
You have the right to refuse to answer questions even if the cops have a warrant, and this rule applies to all law enforcement agencies and governmental entities, including but not limited to the FBI, DEA, ICE, and IRS.
A warrant to arrest you is not the law enforcement’s ticket to get you talking, and whether or not the arresting police officers are being nice about it, do NOT talk to them or answer their questions unless you want to get into more trouble with the law or make yourself look guilty of the crime you are being arrested for. In fact, upon arrest, the arresting police officers are required to read your Miranda rights.
Another thing that you need to understand about your Miranda rights is that the best criminal defense lawyers in California tend to refuse to represent those who said anything even remotely compromising about their case upon the arrest.
And you cannot blame them, really. Because the failure to remain silent during an arrest can significantly reduce your chances of exonerating yourself and proving your innocence later on.
“Many suspects are afraid to say the words, ‘I will not speak to you before I speak to my lawyer’ because they think it makes them appear guilty of the crime they did not commit,” explains our San Francisco criminal defense attorney. “But here is the thing: asserting your Miranda rights does not mean yelling or being disrespectful to police officers in order to remain silent. All you need to say is that you do not want to answer any questions. You cannot be arrested or charged for remaining silent.”
Regardless of the circumstances in your particular case, never speak to law enforcement agencies before consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact our best-certified lawyers in San Francisco and elsewhere in California by reaching out to the Okabe & Haushalter law firm. Call our offices at 310-430-7799 or complete this contact form.