TV and Movies have pounded the Miranda warnings into our head:
You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you, you have the right to have an attorney, if you cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for you.
All that’s missing is a bad pun and a soundtrack by The Who.
Knowing your in rights within situations with police is essential to interacting with them. Let’s focus on the two most common aspects of police interactions: The Miranda Warnings and Vehicle searches.
When do Miranda Warnings apply?
Miranda Warnings apply whenever someone finds his or herself under what's known as custodial interrogation.
- The custody in “custodial interrogations” means you must be detained -- not free to leave -- in the custody of police, be that the back of a police car, a holding cell, or an interrogation room.
- Interrogation means you must be in the process of being actively interrogated by the police. If the police aren’t asking questions that would reasonably elicit a response from you, and you make a spontaneous statement, that statement is not covered by your Miranda Rights.
If these conditions are met, police are required to give you your Miranda Warnings.
Requesting a Lawyer
If you choose to exercise your right to an attorney, or your right to stay silent, the Supreme Court holds you must expressly and explicitly declare your intention. The police aren’t required to interpret vague or ambiguous language when asking for your rights.
Don’t: “Maybe I should get a lawyer.”
“It’s probably not a good idea for me to talk.”
Do: "I want to have an attorney with me during questioning.”
“I'm not answering any more questions.”
“I do not waive my Miranda Rights.”
“I'm going to invoke my right to remain silent."
Cooperate but don’t waive your rights
It's important to remember to never waive your Miranda Warnings, never freely agree to speak to the police or volunteer any information that can be used against you, especially when you're being considered a suspect.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t help or cooperate with an ongoing investigation if you feel it’s your civic duty. However, under no circumstance when you are a suspect should you ever volunteer any information or speak to the police without having an attorney present.
Never allow the police to search your vehicle, or your person, or your house.
The fourth amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 12 of the Florida Constitution grants us rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. This generally means that the police must obtain a search warrant, or an arrest warrant supported by probable cause, oath or affirmation before they can search you, your vehicle, or your home.
Vehicle searches can provide a grey area for these protections. Vehicles are private property on public roads, so courts must balance your expectation to privacy. For instance, police can search your car without a warrant if they have probable cause.
Police may ask to search your car without having probable cause, but you do not have to allow them. Often a driver will consent to a search without protest, not realizing they don’t have to. It is not uncommon for people carrying drugs, paraphernalia or some other kind of contraband in the car to consent to a search and then get in trouble, when they never should have consented to the search in the first place.
You have rights as a citizen and they are for your own protection. Always cooperate in an investigation unless you are being considered a suspect. Clearly request your lawyer be present if at any time an investigation focuses on you and you are taken into custody by police. If the police ask to search your vehicle, person, or house always refuse. Request that they get a search warrant and never give your consent.
For more information on your rights with police, or to schedule a consultation, visit us on the web, at VagovicLaw.com or give us a call at (386) 265-0900.