The right to silence is a legal principle that guarantees two things: first, it covers a person’s right to stay silent during an investigation or interrogation by the authorities; and, second, it ensures that the individual’s silence cannot be used against him or her later on in the course of the trial.
Here you will find some information about how the right to silence comes about during the arrest; factors to consider when making a decision to give a statement or not; and, what type of information is not covered by the right to silence.
From arrest to statement
For a person who has been arrested, the first 12 to 24 hours can be some of the most harrowing and anxiety ridden moments of their lives. It is not uncommon for clients to regret the decisions they made when they were first arrested. Some harmful decisions can be made due to ignorance or inexperience.
There is a difference between an utterance and a statement. Generally, an utterance is an off the cuff comment made by the accused. An utterance can be made at any point during the course of the arrest. It can be made during the detention and reading of the charges. It can come about while the person is being transported to the police station or during the booking process. Utterances are often recorded by police in their memo books.
On the other hand, a statement is generally made when the arrested individual is brought into an interview room and asked questions by an investigator. These statements are often video or audio recorded.
In most cases, the decision to give a statement or to make an utterance during the arrest can affect your trial later on. That is why it is important to seek qualified legal help as soon as possible. Getting advice from an experienced criminal lawyer before and during the arrest, where police are allowed to use trickery and other tactics while interrogating you, can be the difference between a long day and a life altering day.
Should you give a statement?
The decision to give a statement should always be an informed one. Every person has a constitutional right to be informed and to retain counsel upon detention or arrest. No one should make the decision to make a statement without first talking to an experienced criminal defence lawyer. Although the decision to make a statement or not is only one of many decisions to make in a criminal case, it is often one of the most significant decisions.
The constitutional right to silence and right to counsel are the most meaningful constitutional protections a person charged with a crime has. This is so because the rights arise when a person is detained or arrested. Naturally, this is when the individual is at their most vulnerable point in the process because their liberty has been taken away. And that is why the constitution gives you the right to talk to a lawyer and to make an informed decision at the point of arrest.
Knowing when to exercise your constitutional rights, for example the right to silence, when speaking to the police and throughout the arrest process may prove critical in preserving potential defences later on. On the other hand, sometimes criminal charges can be avoided by providing the authorities with an innocent explanation. Speaking to an experienced criminal defence lawyer can give you the understanding you need in order to make the best decision that will have a positive impact on the case.
Some information is not covered by the right to silence
Not every utterance, statement, expression is covered by the right to silence. At the police station, the police may seek a statement or they may not. Ultimately, they will ask you to provide biographical information such as your name, date of birth, and address. This information is required to process an arrest.
Generally, a request for biographical information should be complied with. Unlike providing a statement (where the right to silence is engaged), refusing to give biographical information or making a false statement could make matters worse.
While no one can guarantee a particular outcome in any case, we can guarantee that retaining a criminal lawyer during the arrest process can help you make the best decision and reduce the risk of self-incrimination. The police are allowed to interrogate, and you are allowed to call a lawyer.
Want to know more about your rights during an arrest? For more information on the arrest process and to speak to an experienced criminal lawyer call 647-282-5777 today to set up your free consultation.