If you get arrested in Arizona, you will be read your Miranda rights. This is a list of the rights that you have by law as someone suspected of committing a crime. Remember, being arrested does not mean you have been found guilty of a crime. Knowing and exercising your rights after an arrest can help you build a stronger defense against the charges you are facing.
The Right to Remain Silent
The first right that you have after an arrest is the right to remain silent. The arresting officer will tell you that you have this right and follow up by saying that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Take this warning to heart. Do not tell the arresting police officers anything. Do not give them any information or explanations and do not answer their questions.
The only question that you legally must answer is to give them your name if you are asked. You must also provide your ID if requested. In Arizona, it is a misdemeanor not to give a police officer your identification. Other than this, however, use your right to remain silent and do not say anything to the arresting officers. You may unintentionally say something that incriminates you even as you are trying to prove your innocence. Anything you say during and after your arrest will go on the record and be admissible in court as evidence against you.
The Right Not to Consent to a Search
You have the right not to consent to an officer’s request to search your property. This includes your person, vehicle and home. If an officer asks to search you or your property, politely refuse to give your permission. If the officer searches your property anyway, anything found most likely will not be admissible as evidence against you since it was an illegal search and seizure. Without your consent, the only way an officer can lawfully search your property is with a search warrant from a judge.
The Right to an Attorney
The second half of your Miranda rights is the right to an attorney. This is the right to hire a licensed and trained professional to defend you from any criminal charges brought against you. This does not only mean hiring an attorney to represent you during a criminal trial; it also means the right to speak to an attorney immediately – as soon as you are at the police station and can make a phone call.
Consulting with an attorney early on is important, as your lawyer will give you advice as to what to say and what not to say during police interrogations. Your lawyer can also search for possible defenses from the start, such as police misconduct or lack of probable cause to make the arrest. You have the right to an attorney even if you cannot afford one. A public defender will be appointed to you by a judge if you cannot afford to hire a private criminal defense lawyer. Retain some type of legal representation after an arrest to help you protect the rest of your rights.
You also have constitutional rights as an American citizen. Many of these overlap with your Miranda rights. The Bill of Rights guarantees you certain civil rights, including the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure and excessive use of force. If a police officer infringes upon any of your civil rights, your lawyer can use this as a reason to request related evidence collected to be thrown out of court.
The Right to Record
You also have the right to record your encounter with a police officer. No federal or state law says that you cannot record. If the police accuse you of not cooperating with the arrest or interfering with an investigation, say that you are cooperating and just want to record your cooperation.
For more information about your rights after an arrest, contact an attorney in Maricopa County for a free consultation.