One of law enforcement’s primary goals following your arrest for a qualifying Pennsylvania criminal charge is to elicit a confession. They may even attempt to do so while you are riding in the police car to the station. However, you should never forget that you have the constitutional rights to both remain silent and to have an attorney to assist you in your defense, and it is important that you contact a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately upon arrest.
Silence Cannot Be Used Against You, Can It?
Most individuals and, in fact, many attorneys, do not know that your silence can be used against you in certain circumstances, despite your right to remain so. According to a recent United States Supreme Court decision, simply remaining silent in the face of police questioning is not enough to invoke your actual “right to remain silent” under the Fifth Amendment. If you remain silent without explicitly invoking your right, then a prosecuting attorney can use that silence against you in court.
However, if the police are questioning you after an arrest and you explicitly state that “you are invoking your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent,” then your silence cannot be used against you in court. This means that the prosecutor may not make reference to your silence before a judge or jury and there is no presumption of guilt because you chose to invoke your right. This area of the law is complex. Even the Supreme Court was unable to render a majority opinion in the matter. Accordingly, contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as practicable upon your arrest can protect you in ways you didn’t even know.
Benefits of Invoking Your Right to an Attorney
Did you know that both the Fifth and Sixth Amendments of the United States Constitution protect your right to an attorney? The Fifth Amendment protects your right to have an attorney present with you during police questioning, which is an essential right during the early stages of a criminal case. This is the right you would invoke upon arrest, but it is always wise to inform the police that you are invoking both your Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to an attorney. The Sixth Amendment protects your right to have an attorney represent you at trial and throughout the course of prosecution.
Invoking your right to an attorney can have the following, critical benefits:
- You cannot be questioned by police outside the presence of your attorney;
- You attorney can object to certain questions and assist you in invoking your right to remain silent;
- Your attorney can visit you while you are in custody to discuss your case;
- Your attorney can argue for your pre-trial release and make pre-trial motions on your behalf;
- Your attorney can advise you as to the merits of the prosecution’s case, and
- Your attorney can assist you in negotiating a beneficial plea bargain.
Contact Philadelphia Criminal Defense Attorney Brian Zeiger Immediately
If you have been arrested for a criminal offense, use that phone call to contact attorney Brian Zeiger immediately. Having him on your side can make or break your criminal case. Don’t delay – contact our office at 215-546-0340 or contact us online.