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What should you know about invoking your constitutional rights?

People whom police officers are detaining may not want to say anything that’s going to lead to them facing criminal charges. All adults must understand their rights so they can invoke them properly if this occurs. 

Most people have heard of the Miranda rights, which are backed by the Fifth Amendment and a United States Supreme Court opinion. These rights provide individuals detained and questioned with specific rights that help them avoid self-incrimination. 

Miranda rights must be invoked

Police officers have to read anyone who’s being detained or arrested their Miranda rights. The two primary rights included are the right to remain silent and the right to speak to your attorney.

The officers won’t ever assume that you want to invoke these rights. Instead, you have to clearly state that you want to exercise them. This means saying something along these lines:

  • I want to speak to my attorney before answering questions.
  • I wish to invoke my Miranda rights.
  • I’m exercising my Fifth Amendment rights. 

It’s best to say something that can’t be misinterpreted. Once you invoke your rights, the questioning by officers must cease. The invocation is universal, meaning they can’t simply call another officer to resume questioning.

After you invoke your Miranda rights, you shouldn’t say anything else. You must uphold the invocation by remaining silent until you understand what you should and shouldn’t say so you can avoid self-incrimination.

If your rights are violated, which sometimes involves police officers continuing to question a person after the invocation of their rights, part of the defense strategy may include having any statements obtained after the invocation thrown out. Seek legal guidance for further information.