In Fresno County, law enforcement detain and/or arrest members of the community on a daily basis. Oftentimes, the individual being detained and/or arrested either is unaware of his or her rights or, for other reasons, elects to not exercise their rights. An individual who is detained and/or arrested by law enforcement should strongly consider exercising his or her right to remain silent. The right to remain silent is commonly referred to an individual’s “Miranda” rights. The “Miranda” rights stem from the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the United States Supreme Court decision in Miranda v. Arizona (1966) 384 U.S. 436.
In general an individual should be “Mirandized” before a custodial interrogation. Determining what constittues a custodial interrogation is not always clear. Therefore, an individual contacted by law enforcement should strongly consider not responding to questions. In reality, if a member of law enforcement has made contact with a member of the general public and is questioning that individual, it is highly likely, but not always the case, that the invidiual is suspected of some type of wrongdoing. To avoid making incriminating statements that individual should, in most instances, elect not to respond to the questions. It may be wise to inform the officer that you would like to speak with your attorney. At that point, the officer is required to cease questioning. If the officer persists, be polite but continue to request an attorney.
One of the most common situations in Fresno County where a member of the public is detained by law enforcement follows a stop for a minor traffic violation. Members of the Fresno Police Department, and California Highway Patrol, are notorious for stopping motorists for minor violations of the vehicle code and, oftentimes, fabricated violations. The real purpose of the stop, that usually occurs after 10:00 p.m., is to determine if the driver is under the influence.
Following a stop for driving under the influence an officer will typically ask for your license and registration. At that point, the officer will ask if you have consumed any alcohol. Regardless of your response, the officer, has likely already formed the opinion that you will be arrested. Therefore, how you chose to answer is up to you. Once you answer the officer will likely have you exit the vehicle. Then the officer will ask you to perform field sobriety tests. While the officer may not be required to inform you of your right to remain silent at this time, you do have the right to not perform field sobriety tests. Depending on the circumstances, you may want to consider not performing the tests. Whether you perform the tests or not, the officer, in most, if not all, instances, will place you under arrest. If placed under arrest for driving under the influence, you will be required to submit to a breath or blood test. You are required to submit to one of the two tests. If you fail to do so, you could lose your license for a year. Keep in mind that during the detention you are not required to make incriminating statements. How you chose to exercise your right to not incriminate yourself following a detention for driving under the influence is up to you. Just remember that whatever you say, can and WILL be used against you.
There are many other situations where an individual has the right to remain silent. If you believe that your rights were violated, please feel free to contact our Fresno Criminal Defense Attorneys today.