What are my rights if I am arrested?
The United States Supreme Court requires that all defendants who are arrested be read their Miranda rights. In the Miranda ruling, the Court held that a defendant cannot be questioned by police in an interrogation until they are made aware of their:
- Right to remain silent
- Right to consult with an attorney
- Right to have an attorney present during questioning
- Right to have an attorney appointed if indigent
Remember, the police and prosecution are not your friends. They know from the time you are arrested, that you are confused and bewildered. Our skilled defense lawyers advise our clients upon arrest:
- To stay quiet. Police often use your fears and worries against you by pressuring you to say things that can hurt you in court. They know many people who are arrested just want to get home as quickly as possible. Once you make a statement, the burden then shifts to the lawyer to show the statement was improperly obtained.
When arrested or approached by a law enforcement officer for questioning, you have an absolute constitutional right to remain silent. Citizens often feel the need to explain themselves when confronted by police, but this can backfire in many situations. Police officers are experienced interrogators, and they can legally use tactics that mislead you or cause you to make statements against your interest. Keep your mouth shut, unless it’s to ask for a lawyer.
- To hire a lawyer. As the Miranda warnings make clear, you do have the right to consult an attorney before answering any questions about the allegations against you. Asking for an attorney doesn’t mean that you’re guilty, or that you did something wrong: it helps protect you. Your attorney will immediately advise the police and the prosecutors that all questions are to go through the lawyer or are to be asked ONLY when the lawyer is present.
In addition to protecting your right not to incriminate yourself, a skilled defense attorney will:
- Represent you at the arraignment. Defendants have the right to be informed of the charges against them. I will ensure you understand the exact charges that are being filed against you.
- Represent you at your bail hearing. If arrested, you want to get out of jail as quickly as possible. Jails are dangerous; jails mean a loss of freedom. It’s easier to mount a defense if you’re not behind bars. When arrested, you have the right to a reasonable bail (money paid for your release from custody). If the bail amount is very high or the judiciary denies bail entirely, your attorney may be able to help change the bail arrangements. There’s no harm in seeking to reduce bail terms, and it might keep you from waiting in a cell until your case comes up. Our defense lawyers seek to have you released from jail pending your court trial based on:
- Your own recognizance
- No-contact orders
- Detention at home
- Mandated drug or alcohol abuse treatment
- Mandated mental health treatment
- Represent you at your preliminary hearing. In many cases, the first step after the arraignment and bail hearing is a preliminary hearing. This hearing is a court process where the judge decides if there is enough evidence to send your case to trial. The prosecution is required to present witnesses to substantiate its case. Defendants normally do not testify at the preliminary hearing – instead, your defense attorney works to question the witnesses about the strengths and weaknesses of the prosecution’s case. Experienced attorneys also understand that the preliminary hearing is often a good opportunity to begin to negotiate with the prosecution.
If you are arrested in Maryland, it is important to have strong legal representation. Many court cases are won or lost at the initial stages after the arrest. With the help of an Annapolis criminal defense lawyer, the legal process will be less stressful and you will have the security of knowing you have a strong advocate on your side.