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Do I have to answer police questions if I have been arrested?

On Behalf of | Jun 6, 2024 | Criminal Justice |

New Jersey police are typically on a mission to find out as much as possible about a suspect as quickly as possible. The easiest way to find information is often to ask suspect questions in hopes that they will admit to something incriminating. Many suspects make the mistake of talking too much and unknowingly giving the officer information they need for the prosecution to build a case against them.

The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination by requiring police to read you your Miranda rights before questioning you. Failure to read you your Miranda rights is a violation of your Constitutional rights. However, this only applies if you are in police custody. In other words, if you are able to freely walk away from the scene, you are generally not considered to be in police custody. Therefore, the officer will be able to ask you questions without reading you your Miranda rights and anything you say can be used against you later.

In most cases, if you are under arrest, you are in police custody. The officer must then read you your Miranda rights before questioning you about the alleged crime. The Miranda rights include:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.

Once the police read me my rights, what should I do?

If you are under arrest, you must answer basic identifying questions relating to your name, age, and address. However, you are not required to answer any other questions. You also have the right to change your mind even if you have already started answering questions. At any point during the questioning, you may inform the officer that you no longer wish to answer questions or inform them that you would like to have a criminal defense attorney present.

Law enforcement officers can be intimidating, but it is important to stay as calm and quiet as possible. If an officer does not read you your Miranda rights before questioning you or otherwise violates your constitutional rights, your attorney may be able to get certain evidence against you thrown out in court.

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