White collar crime allegations can have serious implications. While mere accusations can cause damage to your reputation and your career, a criminal conviction can result in prison time, fines that can devastate your stability, and a criminal record that can affect nearly every aspect of your life for years or even decades to come.
As scary as that may sound, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself. One of the most important from the beginning of an investigation is to take advantage of your right to remain silent. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand this right and the role that law enforcement plays, so this week let’s take a closer look.
Your right to remain silent
You have constitutional protections against making self-incriminating statements. That means that you never have to talk to the police. So, you should be wary of investigators who try to buddy up to you and make it look like they just need your help to crack the case. In many instances, you’re better off staying quiet and speaking with an attorney.
Aren’t the police supposed to inform you of your right to remain silent?
Yes, they are, but only in certain circumstances. Under Miranda, law enforcement officers only have to inform you of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney if you’re being subjected to custodial interrogation. This means that they’re only required to read you a Miranda warning if you’ve been arrested and are being subjected to questioning.
But what does it mean to be “in custody”? In short, the answer boils down to whether you’re free to leave. If so, then you’re probably not in custody. So, don’t be afraid to ask law enforcement if you’re free to go, that way you know exactly where you stand.
It’s also important to note that you can invoke your right to remain silent and obtain an attorney at any time, even if you previously waived that right. Even if you’ve already started talking to investigators, you can stop at any point. Don’t let them goad you into talking more than you want to.
What if incriminating statements were illegally obtained?
This happens all the time. Law enforcement officers deny access to an attorney or don’t read Miranda warnings on an alarming basis. But when this happens, you might be able to use their error to your advantage. That’s because illegally obtained evidence shouldn’t be used against you and may therefore be excluded from trial. You’ll have to file a motion to suppress and lay out a compelling argument as to how the evidence in question was illegally obtained, but you have a good chance of success on one of these motions if one of your Constitutional rights was violated.
Be proactive in building your criminal defense
It can be terrifying to go up against aggressive prosecutors who have their sights on taking you down and imposing the harshest penalties allowable under the law. But try not to be intimidated. Depending on the facts at hand, you might be able to raise compelling criminal defense arguments that poke enough holes in the prosecution’s case as to raise reasonable doubt. While attacking illegally obtained evidence can be a key component of your defense, it’s just a piece of a larger picture that should make up your case.
That’s why it’s important that you’re proactive in building the holistic criminal defense that you need to maximize your chances of success. To learn more about how to do that, consider researching this area of the law more and reach out for help if needed.