You’ve probably seen it on TV: the police arrest someone, and read them their “Miranda rights.” But do you know as much as you should about what these rights really mean?
Although they are sometimes referred to as “Miranda rights,” the rights contained in a Miranda warning actually come from the U.S. Constitution and its state-level equivalent. The Miranda warning is a reminder that police must give to suspects before conducting any custodial questioning – if police fail to give a Miranda warning, any incriminating statements that a suspect makes may not be used as evidence against him or her.
In a new opinion filed July 13, the Wisconsin Supreme Court revisited one of the most important rights contained in the Miranda warning, the right to an attorney. If you’re ever taken into police custody, knowing how to properly exercise this right can help keep you from getting into serious trouble.
Right To an Attorney Stops Police Questioning, but Suspect Can Give It Up
In the new Wisconsin Supreme Court case, State v. Stevens, the defendant was given his Miranda warning as he was taken into police custody.
The defendant in State v. Stevens invoked his right to an attorney while being interrogated. Once a suspect requests an attorney, all questioning must cease immediately. It did; however, shortly after invoking his right to a lawyer, the defendant changed his mind and decided to talk to the police.
Ultimately, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that it was proper of the police to resume questioning after the suspect willingly reinitiated communication. After a suspect has invoked his or her right to an attorney, the police can no longer request that the suspect talk to them – but if the suspect decides on his or her own to start talking again, the police may resume the conversation. The defendant’s statements were allowed into evidence.
Don’t Make the Same Mistake; Ask for an Attorney As Soon As You’re Arrested
The right to an attorney is a powerful shield for those facing criminal charges. While the defendant in State v. Stevens lost some of the most valuable protections the right has to offer, the case can serve as a lesson to others. When you are taken into custody, you should invoke your right to an attorney. As long as you do not reinitiate communication with the police, no further questions should be put to you until your lawyer is present.
Get the full benefit of your Constitutional protections. If you’ve been arrested, contact a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney today.