You Have a Right to Remain Silent - Here's How to Use It
Miranda rights are regularly depicted in movies and shows but often leave viewers with an inaccurate understanding of the law.
To protect your freedom, it is critical that you know what Miranda rights are and when they apply if South Carolina police confront you.
To help spread awareness, we are offering the following Miranda rights FAQ.
Remember: If you are facing criminal charges in South Carolina, contact Matt Bodman, P.A., for a free case consultation to learn more about how the law applies to your specific situation, the penalties you face, and legal defense options.
Miranda rights FAQ
What are Miranda rights?
Established in the 1960s, "Miranda rights" were initially designed to protect arrestees from threatening police interrogation tactics.
Police typically "Mirandize" people - read them their Miranda rights, give a Miranda warning - when they are being arrested.
Officers must read your Miranda warning if they intend to use your answers as evidence in court. Although the wording may differ, a basic Miranda warning goes like this:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have a right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford a lawyer, you will be provided with one.
When do Miranda rights apply?
Only an arrest can trigger a Miranda warning. Therefore, until an arrest, police are free to ask many questions and gather information without informing you of your Miranda rights.
However, you do not have to wait for an officer to read your Miranda rights to assert your right to remain silent. You always have this right under the 5th Amendment of the Constitution.
In many situations, you must clearly state that you are invoking your 5th Amendment right to silence or risk having your silence used as "evidence" of alleged guilt.
If police are questioning you, calmly say: "I am asserting my 5th Amendment right to silence, and I want to speak to a lawyer." Then stay quiet and contact Matt Bodman, P.A., for a free case consultation.
What happens if I wasn't read my Miranda rights?
Even if an officer skips the Miranda warning during an arrest, it does not automatically invalidate the arrest or evidence collected. But it could.
If you are arrested without being "Mirandized," your civil rights may have been violated, and evidence collected after the arrest may be inadmissible.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can investigate the arrest and analyze evidence for errors in your favor. However, evidence collected legally before the arrest can still be admitted in court.
If you choose to waive your Miranda rights, whatever you say can also be used against you.
Can I waive my Miranda rights?
Yes, but this is a bad idea in most situations. You do not want to inadvertently do or say something that helps the police make a case against you.
If you are suspected of a crime, do not agree to answer questions or sign anything without your lawyer present.
The less you say to the police, the more options your lawyer will have to defend you.
Do you have to identify yourself to the police in South Carolina?
In general, no. South Carolina does not have a specific statute or "stop and identify" law that requires you to tell police who you are.
However, if you are stopped for a legal reason while driving a motor vehicle and the officer asks to see your license, you should give it to them.
Note that it is a serious crime in South Carolina to provide false identification or give a fake name to law enforcement.
We will fight for your freedom
If you have been arrested, don't take any chances with your freedom. Always consult with an experienced South Carolina criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest.
The steps you take could affect the rest of your life. With decades of experience and vast knowledge of the state's legal system, South Carolina criminal defense attorney Matt Bodman knows how to fight effectively for you.
If you were arrested or expect to be charged with a crime in South Carolina, contact us today for a free consultation.