Archive for June, 2011

The Best Defense When Facing Arrest: Shut Up!

Monday, June 27th, 2011

While it is difficult to quantify the exact number of those arrested for Kansas criminal offenses that either made the case for the prosecutor or at the very least provided critical evidence, there is no denying that the number of cases is substantial.  Most people who are arrested provide damaging incriminating statements or lie creating a whole slew of other problems.  While the typical citizen in Kansas understands that they have certain protections that are included in a Miranda warning including the right against self-incrimination (right to remain silent) and right to counsel, many people are so shaken during an arrest or interrogation they attempt to talk their way out of the situation.

If you make incriminating statements once you are “in custody” (i.e. no longer free to leave), the incriminating statements and evidence obtained based on those statements, such as revealing the location of critical evidence, may be subject to the exclusionary rule which allows evidence obtained illegally to be excluded from being used as evidence against you.  An experienced Kansas criminal defense lawyer will carefully examine the facts of your case to determine if your Miranda rights were violated.  A violation may including any of the following:

  • Failure to give a Miranda warning
  • Continuing to question a citizen despite the accused asserting his or her right to counsel
  • Ignoring a citizen’s indication that he wishes to remain silent

If your Kansas criminal defense attorney believes that their has been a Miranda violation, the attorney may file for a suppression hearing to have any incriminating statements and evidence obtained from those statements suppressed so that the evidence cannot be used against you.  Our experienced Kansas criminal defense attorneys frequently file motions to suppress incriminating evidence or statements based on Miranda violations.  A successful motion may so compromise the prosecutor’s case that the prosecutor agrees to dismiss or substantially reduce the charges.

However, the Supreme Court has recently limited the protections of Miranda so it is critical that you clearly articulate your desire to exercise both rights.  You should not discuss your case with anyone and should clearly indicate that you are invoking your right to remain silent and do not want to answer any questions until you have obtained an attorney who can be present during any questioning.  The police may try to persuade you to sign a waiver or verbally agree to waive these rights.  They may even suggest that it will result in less punishment or that you may be able to go home.  This is absolutely false; it will never help you to speak to the police.  You should invoke your rights and shut up!

A common mistake many people make when arrested is to lie to the police.  This rarely goes well and eventually ends up creating more problems.  It is very difficult to lie effectively during a police interrogation so the result is usually simply conflicting contradictory statements or statements that are clearly not supported by the evidence.  These contradictions will typically be used at trial if you did not invoke your Miranda rights.  These statements may be used in a variety of ways.  They may provide evidence that you committed the crime, point the police to other damaging evidence, suggest that you are dishonest and not truthful at trial or simply make you look less sympathetic to the jury.

An additional problem posed by lying is that this can in some situations be an independent basis for criminal liability.  Depending on the law enforcement agency and surrounding circumstances, it may be easier to prosecute you for lying during an investigation than to convict you of the underlying offense.  A good example of this scenario in the media is Barry Bonds perjury case.  Bonds is not facing charges for using steroids but for lying to Congress about whether he used steroids.

The bottom line is that the protections of Miranda are a very powerful tool.  It can sometime be difficult to determine the precise moment that Miranda protections begin because you must be “in custody” before the officers are required to give a Miranda warning.  While a formal arrest will often denote the moment a person is in custody, the exact moment may occur earlier if you were not free to leave.  You may even ask if you are free to leave.  If you are free to leave, then do so.  If not, you should immediately remain silent and invoke your right to speak to an attorney.  At Cummings and Cummings, LLC, we represent those charged with all types of crimes including DUI, misdemeanors and felonies.  We have over 30 years of collective experience defending citizens from Wichita and throughout south-central Kansas.  When your freedom and reputation hang in the balance, Cummings and Cummings will fight for your future.  Call us today at (316) 264-1548!