Should You Speak With the Police When You Are Detained?

You have the right to remain silent, and other important rights, when officers detain you.

There are two schools of thought on this question. Each one has a good point. Some people, including many lawyers, point out that if you want to get out of a hole, you must first stop digging. If the police detain you, you are in a hole. Failing to cooperate just makes things worse. Other attorneys assert that it is important to assert your right to remain silent. Prosecutors have plenty of resources with which to convict defendants. They do not need the defendant’s help.

Our Georgia criminal defense lawyers typically tell people they should assert their right to remain silent. This assertion denies prosecutor’s further evidence. Of course, when defendants lawyer up, officers usually arrest them. But an arrest and prosecution were probably inevitable at that point anyway, regardless of what the defendant did or did not do.

Fifth Amendment Rights

The Fifth Amendment right to remain silent does not just apply to verbal silence. It also applies to physical silence. Suspects need not appear in lineups, pose for photographs, or take tests, like chemical DUI tests.

In most cases, the assertion of Fifth Amendment rights cannot be used against them in court. DUI chemical tests are the primary exception. Georgia is an implied consent state. People consent to chemical tests when they sign their driver’s licenses. If they later revoke that consent, the Fifth Amendment doesn’t protect that revocation.

Defendants also have the right to medical and otherwise humane treatment during confinement. Officers cannot link better treatment with waiving Fifth Amendment rights (e.g., if you give us a statement, we will call a doctor).

We alluded to the controversial 2010 Supreme Court case Berghuis v. Thompkins above. The Supreme Court ruled that defendants waive their Fifth Amendment rights unless they expressly assert them. In other words, if Sam does not say anything during an interrogation, he waives his right to remain silent.

Incidentally, Fifth Amendment rights kick in once custodial interrogation begins. Basically, CI means an officer asks questions, even if they are not directly related to the crime being investigated, and the defendant does not feel free to leave.

Sixth Amendment Rights

Various Sixth Amendment rights begin once the prosecution enters a critical phase. Courts have consistently defined this phrase to mean the moment official charging instruments are filed in court.

The Sixth Amendment guarantees a public trial. Do not overlook this important right. Judges and prosecutors are often on their best behavior if they know someone is watching. Furthermore, arbitration and other private trials are illegal in criminal proceedings.

Furthermore, defendants have a right to personally confront the witnesses against them, at least in most cases. Many people will make all kinds of accusations against other people on social media and in other such settings. But making such accusations in front of the person is a much different matter. Additionally, the confrontation clause gives a Georgia criminal defense lawyer the right to cross-examine these witnesses.

The right to an attorney is probably the most important Sixth Amendment right. Defendants have a right to hire their attorney of choice. Furthermore, authorities cannot confiscate so much cash or other property that the confiscation limits this right to hire an attorney.

Additionally, if the defendant is indigent, the judge must appoint a lawyer to represent the defendant without cost. Different judges have different standards for determining who is indigent and who is not.

Reach Out to a Hard-Hitting Gwinnett County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Defendants should know their rights and know how to assert them. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Norcross, contact Zimmerman & Associates, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters in Fulton County and nearby jurisdictions.