If you end up getting arrested, you need to know your rights
Sometimes, the strongest evidence prosecutors have comes from the defendants themselves.
You have a right against self-incrimination. This means that you do not have to give information that could lead to you being charged with a crime. You are not required to act as a witness against yourself.
If you are confronted by the police or another law enforcement agency, knowing your rights may reduce your risk of self-incrimination.
The following is general information and may not apply to your case. If you're facing charges in South Carolina, you should talk to a criminal defense attorney to get a clear understanding of your legal rights and options with regard to your specific situation.
Typically, the key to not incriminating yourself in front of the police is to ask for a lawyer and then remain quiet. Staying silent can help out with all kinds of charges, including:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Drug charges
- White-collar crimes
- Internet crimes
- Assault and battery cases
- Sexual assault or criminal sexual conduct allegations
- Domestic violence
Some police officers are very good at getting people to slip up and reveal information that leads to charges. They may say that "things will be easier on you if you talk." This is false. The only thing made "easier" if you talk is the officer's job.
Police are looking to charge you with a crime, not prove your innocence. When you are being investigated, talking to the police without a lawyer by your side has no benefit to you. Never answer questions without a lawyer present. Assert your rights to legal counsel and silence.
The Fifth Amendment
Staying quiet is always an option. Not answering questions can protect your freedom, but in some situations, this silence may be used against you in court. Unless you "plead the Fifth."
Invoking the Fifth means that you are asserting your Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination. Under the Fifth Amendment, your silence cannot be used against you or interpreted as a sign of guilt. To use this right, you must say so out loud. Before you go silent, you can say something like this to the police:
"I am asserting my Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and, therefore, I will not answer the question."
You should know that after you are arrested, your silence cannot be held against you.
Stick to "yes" or "no" responses
It can be difficult to stay silent during a tense situation with the police. It is natural to get upset and defensive when you are being accused. However, staying calm when confronted by police reduces the risk of self-incrimination. You don't want something said in the heat of the moment to become a prosecutor's evidence at your trial.
If you do choose to talk to the police, say as little as possible to avoid self-incrimination. Respond to questions with one-word answers like "yes" and "no." Do not go into detail about the circumstances that led to your interaction with the police, yourself, your history, or anything else. If they ask you for information like your name and address, you may respond with this exact information and nothing more.
Again, having a criminal defense attorney by your side during questioning can help you assert your rights and protect your freedom, as your lawyer can help prevent you from accidentally incriminating yourself.
Talk to a South Carolina criminal defense attorney
If you're facing charges in South Carolina, it's critical to have someone on your side who knows how the criminal justice system works.
Being convicted of a crime can have lasting consequences. That means the stakes are high, and you must take your charges seriously.
As a former state prosecutor with extensive courtroom experience, attorney Matt Bodman can leverage his intimate knowledge of the system to fight for the outcome your case deserves.
If you have been charged or believe you will be charged with a crime, contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced South Carolina criminal defense lawyer. We can explain how the law applies to your case and help you weigh your options.
Do not delay. The sooner we start collecting evidence and planning your defense, the better. A member of our team is available to hear from you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.