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Your fundamental rights when questioned by the police

Let’s say that you have been detained by police officers and are taken to the police station for questioning. For most people, this is frightening, confusing and intimidating. It may seem as if the odds are stacked against you.

There are crucial rights to which you are entitled, and you have the right to use them if you are ever taken into police custody. You should know that in a situation like this, you are not powerless. When interrogated by the police, you are ensured three fundamental rights by the criminal justice system.

The right to be read your Miranda rights

If you are ever in police custody, law enforcement officers must read you a statement called the Miranda Rights. These are a set of four statements pertaining to the Fifth-Amendment right not to make self-incriminating statements. Police must tell you:

1. You have the right to remain silent.

2. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.

3. You have the right to an attorney.

4. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

The right to remain silent

Many people who are questioned are not aware that they have the right to remain completely silent throughout the interview. You should always clearly state that you are choosing to remain silent—simply clamming up and refusing to talk will not suffice. After the officer asks you a question, calmly reply that you are choosing to remain silent per your Fifth Amendment rights. Police officers have a right to ask you as many questions as they want to, but you are allowed to stay silent.

The right to consult an attorney

Finally, if you are taken into police custody, you have the right to speak to an attorney. This is a right that you must explicitly, vocally request. When the police begin questioning you, tell them that you wish to consult an attorney. Generally, the officers will stop questioning you until an attorney arrives. If they continue asking questions, tell them again that you will not speak without an attorney present. Again, you do not have to respond to their questions.

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1315 Walnut Street
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Philadelphia, PA 19107

Phone: 215-531-5011
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