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Protecting Your Rights Since 1987

Exercising your right to be silent

We have all seen movies and TV shows in which fictional police officers read Miranda rights to characters who are suspects in apparent crimes. But the rights are very real and available to everyone. Many readers know the Miranda warning by heart from watching such shows and movies, but let’s state them anyway in case anyone has missed “Law and Order”: you have the right to remain silent and you have the right to an attorney.

Most experienced criminal defense attorneys urge their clients to exercise those rights when police officers want to interview them about possible crimes. Clients are urged to politely decline to answer questions about possible drug crimes, weapons charges, sex offenses, assault charges or anything else – until they have their Marshall County attorney by their side. 

A recent case involving a Kentucky man illustrates the point. He was at a residence about 80 miles southeast of Benton when law enforcement officers knocked on the door with a narcotics search warrant for another individual. While inside the residence, officers apparently saw in plain sight a glass pipe containing marijuana residue. They also found a loaded handgun under a mattress in the Clarksville, Tennessee, home.

The Kentucky man was read his Miranda rights, but instead of declining to answer questions until he had his attorney, he told police he had smoked marijuana in the pipe and that he had moved the gun to the bedroom from the living room.

He also told them of a drug possession offense he had been convicted of 20 years ago.

The end result: he was arrested on firearms and drug charges.

Many criminal defense attorneys would say he would have been better off declining to answer questions until he had spoken with them first. In that way, he could avoid possibly making incriminating misstatements or stating things in ways open to misinterpretation.

Speak to a criminal defense attorney about your rights and any charges you might face in Marshall County.

Source: The Leaf-Chronicle, "Deputies arrest suspect on felony firearm, drug charges," Philip Grey, Oct. 11, 2014

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