Making Certain Law Enforcement Officers Respect Your Constitutional Rights
One of the basic tenets of our legal system is that an individual is innocent until proven guilty. The zealous efforts of police officers to obtain convictions often fly in the face of that premise. This blog posts provides an overview of the basic procedural requirements during a criminal investigation or arrest. To learn more, contact the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr, or call us at 610-565-0240.
Your Basic Criminal Rights
The most fundamental criminal right is the right, under the 4th Amendment, to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. Before conducting a search of your person, home or property (including your vehicle), law enforcement officers must have probable cause to conduct the search. In other words, they must have legally sufficient reasons to believe that a search is warranted. The belief must only be “reasonable.” It does not have to be correct, and there does not have to be enough evidence to convict. Police must also have probable cause to arrest you.
Once you are taken into custody, you must be advised of your rights, as set forth in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1966 decision in Miranda v. Arizona. The ruling in Miranda was based on your protection, under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, against self-incrimination.
Though there is no specific wording that must be used, the court required that anyone in custody must be informed:
- That he or she has the right to remain silent, and that anything they say may be used against them in court
- That he or she has the right to consult with an attorney, and to have the attorney present during any questioning
- That, if the suspect cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided at no cost to represent him or her.
In a 2010 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court limited the application of Miranda by holding that, once a person has been given Miranda warnings, he or she must affirmatively state a desire to remain silent.
At the Law Offices of John E. Kusturiss, Jr, we have more than 30 years of practice experience. Contact us online or call us at 610-565-0240 to set up an appointment. There is no charge for your initial consultation. We are available to meet with you evenings or weekends upon request. We take Visa, MasterCard and Discover, as well as debit cards.