When stopped or questioned by the police, you do not have to talk to them about the offense. The United States Supreme Court, in Miranda v. Arizona, ruled that, when the police take you into custody and question an individual, they must warn you of the following:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
Law enforcement will often try to convince you that they will help you if you confess. This is merely one of their methods of getting a confession.
Unless law enforcement has a warrant or one of a few narrowly defined “exigent” circumstances, they cannot enter your home. If you are an overnight guest at another’s home, you obtain the same protections against intrusions by law enforcement that the resident of the home has.
These are just a few of the many overriding principles that are used in criminal defenses and traffic defenses. The most effective method of defeating a case is through a motion to suppress. In a motion to suppress, evidence is excluded if obtained through a violation of that person’s constitutional rights, such as the ones listed above. This method can be used to entirely defeat the state’s case. Sometimes, the use of the motion partially defeats the state’s case, leveling the playing field at trial.