Understanding Your Rights: A Guide to Police Interrogations and How to Protect Yourself

Following an arrest, the police may take you to an interrogation room for questioning. Police officers routinely interrogate criminal suspects in an attempt to have them admit guilt or reveal the names of other suspects. However, the police are required to follow strict protocols when questioning suspects. When the police fail to follow these rules, any evidence uncovered as a result of the illegal interrogation may be inadmissible in court. In this article, we discuss how to protect yourself during police interrogations.  

The Interrogation Process

The police use interrogations to obtain confessions from criminal suspects. Often, the police use trickery and other methods during interrogations. Unfortunately, many of these deceptive tactics are perfectly legal. However, the police cannot use the following methods to obtain information from criminal suspects: 

  • Threats
  • Physical torture
  • Psychological torture
  • Drugging
  • Inhumane treatment

Miranda Rights

Since the law doesn’t explicitly prohibit many kinds of deceptive tactics during interrogations, it is usually advisable to exercise one’s Miranda rights prior to police questioning. The Miranda warning, which is a set of instructions the police must recite to those in custody and subject to police interrogation, is designed to protect criminal suspects’ rights against self-incrimination. The key portions of the Miranda warning are as follows:

  • The right to remain silent: As a person in police custody, you have the right to not answer the questions the police ask you. 
  • The right to an attorney: You also have the right to have an attorney with you while you are questioned. If you can’t afford to hire a lawyer, the state will provide you with a public defender. 
  • The warning that anything you say can and will be used against you in court: This informs you that any statements made during the interrogation can be used as evidence against you in a court of law.

The Importance of Invoking Your Miranda Rights

As noted above, it’s important to invoke your Miranda rights at the onset of a police interrogation. Unless you have legal or law enforcement experience, the police likely have far more interrogation experience than you do, and they will use this to their advantage. There are several key reasons that you should invoke your Miranda rights during a police interrogation. Specifically, your Miranda rights:  

  • Protect you against self-incrimination,
  • Prevent coerced confessions,
  • Provide you with time to consult with a lawyer,
  • Prevent your statement from being used against you in court, and
  • Create a record demonstrating that you asserted your rights.

Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer 

If you have been accused of committing a crime in the state of Virginia, you need an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in your corner. At Walker Jones, PC, our criminal defense lawyers understand the serious consequences that accompany criminal charges. Therefore, when you reach out to us for assistance, we will examine the facts of your case, plan your defense, and do everything possible to obtain a successful result in your Virginia criminal case. Please contact us to arrange an initial consultation with a criminal defense lawyer. 

Posted in: Criminal Defense