How Important Are Miranda Rights When Dealing With Police?

In the criminal law realm, Miranda comes into play when you are in custody and being interrogated. When both things have occurred the police have to tell you that you have the right to remain silent, right to counsel, and to let you know that anything you say can and will be used against you.

There are two types of custody. There is there is constructive custody, in which a reasonable person would believe they’re not free to leave and actual custody where you are physically restrained such as being placed in a cop car, placed in a room at the police station, or you’re handcuffed. It’s not so cut-and-dried; mere contact with police officer, just talking to you and asking questions is not always custody, although it may seem like it.

The best thing to do is to remain silent; in fact, the best thing to do is to tell the officers explicitly that you choose to remain silent, because there’s been some case law out of the Supreme Court stating your silence can be taken into consideration as a sign of guilt. Therefore, it’s best, when confronted by a police officer, to never say anything other than politely telling them you choose to not answer any questions, and that you wish to speak to a lawyer. When you do that, they have to stop. If they don’t stop and you say something, it could get thrown out.

In the DUI context, if you’re pulled over and the officer is standing at the door, the answers you give to any questions will come into evidence, because the law doesn’t consider that to be custody, even if most people wouldn’t feel free to leave. If they do the field sobriety tests, that’s not considered a statement. Field sobriety tests are highly unscientific, and they’re only designed to gauge whether or not you’re over the legal limit, not impaired. If you’re asked to give those, politely decline; if they’re asking you to come out of the car to do some tests, they’ve pretty much already made up their mind, regardless of what they say, so all you’re doing is adding fuel to the fire.

In Pennsylvania, if you’re asked to give a chemical test, either breath or blood, do it because there’s a jury instruction that allows the jury to consider a refusal as evidence of guilt, and the refusal can result in enhanced punishments. Because of attorneys like me and a few others in the state, blood tests and drug test results can be challenged successfully. If you give a blood test then my firm has the ability to scientifically challenge those tests and we may be able to either get rid of the blood test results or knock them down a tier or two, which, depending on the number of previous offenses, can lead to a significant reduction in punishment. If you refuse, you’re automatically at the highest punishment bracket and the court’s hands are tied.

The best thing to do when confronted by a police officer is to always be polite because they’re in control at that moment; if they’re wrong, that’s for a court to decide. Things can go badly, but be polite, and respectfully decline to answer any questions. If it’s a DUI case and they for whatever reason ask you to give blood, do it. Test results can be successfully challenged.

What Are the Basic Differences Between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges?

There are three levels of misdemeanors; third, second and first  degree, with first-degree being the worst, punishable by up to five years; second-degree misdemeanors can get you up to two years, while third-degree or ungraded misdemeanors can result a maximum of six months or a year, depending on the charge. Felonies also come in three categories; felony one, two and three. Felony three is a maximum of seven years, while felony two is a maximum of ten years, while felony one is up to 25 years, depending on the charge.

Some ungraded drug felonies, which can be considered third-degree felonies can carry a maximum of 15 years, so the above are just generalities. However they all have collateral consequences, even first-degree misdemeanors. If you get a first-degree misdemeanor or any felony, you lose your right to possess or own firearms forever.

For more information on Miranda Rights In Pennsylvania, a free initial consultation is your best next step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling today.