Your Legal Rights During A Maryland Criminal Investigation

Depending upon the facts and circumstance of your case, you may have legal rights that can not be impeded upon by law enforcement. Below, a Maryland criminal attorney discusses these rights and some common misconceptions associated with this rights. To learn more call and schedule a consultation today.

Rights if Police Show Up at Your Door

If police show up at your door and want to investigate, you do not have to let officers into your home unless they have a warrant. Now, if an officer has a warrant to search your home, then you do have to allow them entry. This is because obtaining a warrant means the officers went in front of a judge and demonstrated probable cause that a crime is taking place and the judge signed off on the ability of the police to search your home.

However if an officer simply knocks on your door, you do not have to let them in. You can absolutely choose to step outside on your porch and have a conversation with them outside of the house. You are also not obligated to answer questions. You can tell them  you wish to have your attorney present before answering any type of questions.

How to Refuse Police

The best thing to say is, “Officer, I choose not to answer any questions. I choose not to allow you to enter or search my residence.” You should always be polite, but you should insist on maintaining your rights. This is very important and can come back to hurt you in trial if you allow police to search your residence.

In the United States, you are not under an obligation to demonstrate that you have nothing to hide. If a police officer wants to search your home, then under our Constitution and Bill of Rights they need to get a warrant. You are not being impolite, you are just exercising your American rights.

Rights if Stopped On The Street By Law Enforcement

An officer can briefly stop someone on the street if they have reasonable suspicion that there is criminal activity afoot. If they wish to detain an individual for any extended period of time, they would need to effectuate an arrest. You do not have to answer any questions asked by police.

Common Misconceptions About Miranda Rights

The most common misconception about Miranda rights is that they apply in every single criminal case. DUI is the perfect example of a misunderstanding of Miranda rights. Miranda applies to something called a custodial interrogation. There are two parts, custody and interrogation. An officer is free to ask an individual questions prior to placing them in custody, and does not have to give Miranda rights to the person at this stage. When an officer pulls you over and asks you questions before they arrest you, they do not have to tell you that you have the right to counsel.

The other prong of Miranda is an interrogation. An officer has to actually interrogate you. In other words, ask you questions about what happened or  your involvement in something. Submitting to a breathalyzer test during the course of a DUI arrest, for example, is not an interrogation because there is no actual question posed to you. The big misconceptions many attorneys see are that Miranda rights apply in every criminal case and if an officer did not Mirandize you it means that you automatically win the case.

When Do Miranda Rights Apply in a Criminal Case?

Miranda applies to making self-incriminating statements. You do not have to make self-incriminating statements to the police. An officer should advise you of Miranda rights after you are arrested but prior to you being interrogated. They should tell you, you have the right to an attorney, you have the right to remain silent, and anything you say can be used against you. In that way, you understand that you have no obligation to make incriminating statements. However, if you do, they will be used against you in the judicial process.