Sunday, June 27, 2010

To Speak or not to Speak... that is the question??

What are the infamous “MIRANDA WARNINGS” that we all hear about on the TV and in the Movies? Miranda Warnings are the “heads up” that law enforcement is required to give so as to put a person suspected of committing crime on notice that his statements might incriminate him. Prior to any criminal interrogation, a person in police custody must be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he may say will be used against him in a court of law. The suspect must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with an attorney, and to have an attorney present during questioning, and further that if he is indigent, an attorney will be provided to him at no cost. These protections are created by virtue of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of our Country and State Constitutions, respectively.

Two factors trigger when law enforcement must issue Miranda Warnings to a person suspected of committing a crime. First, the person must be in the custody of law enforcement and not free to leave; non-law enforcement agents, such retail loss prevention officers, are generally not required to give Miranda Warnings. Second, law enforcement must be questioning or interrogating the suspect regarding involvement in a crime; generally questions about personal information, such as name and date of birth, do not trigger the Miranda Warning requirement.

In any Washington State criminal case, a qualified Washington State criminal attorney will review the case to ascertain: (1) if any statements were made by his client, (2) if statements were made by his client, were they made at a time in which his client was in custody and while being interrogated, and (3) if the answer is yes to (1) and (2), were Miranda Warnings properly given and did his client knowingly and willingly waive them. Generally, law enforcement will attempt to have a suspect sign a Constitutional Rights Form that states: “I understand my Constitutional Rights. I have decided not to exercise these rights at this time. Any statements made by me are made freely, voluntarily, and without threats or promises of any kind”. Invariably it is always a wise decision to exercise one’s Constitutional Rights and to not sign the form.

If you or a loved one is charged with a crime in Washington State it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a qualified and reputable Washington criminal defense attorney. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Washington criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case.

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