The Right to Counsel and Protection Against Self-Incrimination
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right not to be coerced into confessing to a crime. When witnesses are testifying in court in a civil or criminal case, where it is a crime for them to lie, they sometimes invoke this right by saying “I plead the Fifth Amendment” if telling the truth could get them charged with a crime. Even before your case goes to trial, and even before you are formally charged, you have the right not to make self-incriminating statements. This is the right to remain silent.
The Sixth Amendment guarantees the right to counsel, which means that you have the right to have a criminal defense lawyer represent you; you can hire a lawyer or have the court appoint a lawyer for you from the Public Defender’s office. Defendants represented by the Public Defender’s office do not have to pay their lawyers. You have the right to discuss your case privately with your lawyer before speaking about it with investigators or prosecutors, and you can always ask your lawyer to speak on your behalf.
Your Constitutional Rights Remain, Even If an Officer Does Not Read the Miranda Warnings
The Vega v. Tekoh decision could make it easier for police to mislead defendants into confessing to crimes, but it does not change your constitutional rights. You still have the right to remain silent and to have a professional attorney represent you. If you are not sure what to say, and if you are not sure whether something you did was legal, it is best to stay silent during questioning and to discuss things privately with your lawyer. One-on-one conversations between you and your lawyer are confidential. Your lawyer can help you decide which defenses to use if your case goes to trial and decide whether it is better to go to trial or to take a plea deal.
Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC About the Constitutional Rights of Defendants
A criminal defense lawyer can help you decide what to say and what not to say in your criminal case and whether to plead guilty or not guilty. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC. to discuss your case