police officer interrogating a criminal in handcuffHave you been arrested or detained by the police in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania?

If so, it’s essential to understand whether you are being subjected to a police interrogation and what your rights are during the process. A knowledgeable criminal attorney can help protect your rights.

What Is a Police Interrogation?

A police interrogation or custodial interrogation involves law enforcement officers detaining and questioning you to obtain information that could link you to a crime. This goes beyond mere casual questioning because you are not free to leave during a custodial interrogation. Importantly, your Miranda rights – such as your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney – only apply during custodial interrogations. Let’s take a closer look at what it means to be in police custody and when police questioning qualifies as interrogation.

First, let’s tackle custody. You’re not only in custody when you’re under arrest or handcuffed in a police station. The law considers you in custody any time your freedom of movement is significantly restricted by law enforcement. If a reasonable person in your situation wouldn’t feel free to leave due to police actions or commands, it’s like being under arrest, which means you’re in custody.

However, you are not necessarily in custody during every police interaction. For example, being stopped by police for a routine traffic stop or briefly detained on the street doesn’t automatically mean you’re in custody. The police can ask you limited questions under some circumstances, even if they don’t have you in custody.

Meanwhile, an interrogation involves more than just direct questioning. It involves any police interaction during which the officers know or should know that their actions could elicit an incriminating response from you. This is not limited to the police asking you explicit questions. For instance, if a police officer presents evidence in a way that’s likely to make you incriminate yourself, even without a direct question, it’s considered an interrogation. Similarly, if you’re in handcuffs and voluntarily admit to a crime without being asked directly, your statement wouldn’t be considered a product of a police interrogation.

So, a custodial interrogation occurs when you are in police custody, and the police know or should know their conduct could prompt you to say things that might incriminate you. In such situations, the police must provide Miranda warnings informing you of your constitutional rights under the law. Contrary to what you might have seen and heard on television, the police are not required to provide a Miranda warning if they are just arresting you. The Miranda warning is only mandatory and your Miranda rights only apply during custodial interrogations.

Remember These Five Fundamental Rights

Always remember these five fundamental rights if you know or suspect you are in a custodial interrogation or being investigated for a crime. The police are supposed to read you your Miranda rights during any custodial interrogation. However, they might not completely or thoroughly explain your rights. As such, it’s important to understand the full extent of your rights so you know how to protect yourself.

The Right to Remain Silent

This is one of the main components of your Miranda rights. The police must inform you of your right to remain silent during custodial interrogations. Since anything you say can be used against you in court, you have the right to refuse to answer any questions the police ask during the custodial interrogation. It’s based on the principle that you shouldn’t be compelled to provide evidence against yourself.

You can invoke this right to remain silent by refusing to speak or answer questions. The police must stop questioning you. If you choose to invoke this right, be polite and calmly tell the police that you are exercising your right to remain silent.

The Right to Be Represented by Legal Counsel

This is the other main component of your Miranda rights. You have the right to have an attorney present during custodial interrogations. If you cannot afford one, the law says the court must provide one for you at no cost.

This right ensures that you have professional legal advice and representation from an attorney who can protect your rights and interests during the legal process. Consult with a criminal defense lawyer immediately if you have been taken into police custody.

The Right to Be Free from Warrantless Searches

While this right is not one of your Miranda rights, it’s still essential to remember. This constitutional right protects you against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. Except under certain conditions, police need a warrant issued by a judge to search your person, belongings, or property. This right aims to preserve your privacy and protect you from arbitrary or invasive law enforcement practices.

It is essential to keep this right in mind because police may ask to search you, and you have the right to refuse. Remember, you are trying to avoid self-incrimination, so don’t do anything that might give the police evidence to use against you.

The Right to Be Free from Inhumane Treatment

You have the right to be treated humanely while in custody. This means the police must not subject you to torture, cruel or degrading treatment, or any form of punishment before a conviction. This right ensures the preservation of your dignity and protection against abuse by law enforcement officials.

The Right to Leave When You Are Not Detained

If you are not officially detained or under arrest, you have the right to leave police interrogations at any time. This right stems from the principle that custodial interrogation must be voluntary unless there’s a legal basis for detaining you. You can determine whether you can invoke this right simply by asking, “Officer, am I free to leave?”

How an Experienced Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help

If you’ve been arrested or are in police custody, having an experienced defense lawyer by your side can make all the difference. They can support and protect your rights by:

  • Communicating with police on your behalf during criminal investigations
  • Reviewing the criminal charges against you to ensure they are valid
  • Clearly explaining your rights and the legal process
  • Gathering evidence that supports your defense
  • Interviewing witnesses who can corroborate your story
  • Arguing for bail to secure your release from custody
  • Negotiating with prosecutors to reduce charges or penalties
  • Challenging any incriminating evidence obtained illegally by the police
  • Representing you in court during all stages of the criminal process
  • Filing motions to dismiss charges that lack sufficient evidence
  • Preparing a solid defense strategy tailored to your case

Criminal defense attorneys know the law and can ensure that your rights are upheld during this process.

Contact a Skilled Criminal Defense Attorney If You’re Facing Criminal Charges or Your Rights Were Violated

At The Zeiger Firm, we know that being interrogated by police is an intimidating experience. Our firm was founded in 2005 by Philadelphia trial lawyer Brian Zeiger. Our dedicated and effective defense team prides itself on providing aggressive and experienced legal representation with a personal touch. Don’t leave your freedom to chance. Contact The Zeiger Firm today for a free consultation. Let us make your fight for justice our fight, too.