Your Right to Remain Silent in an NJ Criminal Case

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Jersey City Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Miranda Rights in New Jersey Criminal Cases

During a criminal investigation, you have a constitutional right to remain silent. More specifically, under the 5th Amendment, you have a right against self-incrimination. This means your “right to remain silent” does not apply to all situations in life, but only when statements you make to law enforcement could incriminate you.

If you are placed under arrest or involved in a custodial interrogation in New Jersey, law enforcement is required to read you your Miranda warnings. A custodial interrogation occurs when a person, who is not free to leave, is reasonably suspected by police to be responsible for, or involved in a criminal offense. When law enforcement takes you into custody, they must state that you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be held against you in a court of law, and you have the right to an attorney, either retained or appointed by the court.

Informing you of your Miranda rights is so important to the rules of criminal procedure that if the police do not inform you of your Miranda rights, any statement you make to police while in custody will be inadmissible in court. Both before and after the police inform you of your Miranda rights, you have the right to remain silent, but you must expressly invoke this right. This means you must actually state to police that you do not want to answer their questions and wish to remain silent.

Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent in NJ

Sometimes, you might think that if you just cooperate with the police, then you will be able to avoid trouble, or you might think you know just the right words to say to get yourself out of the hot seat. You might even think that the law enforcement officers who are asking you questions are being nice to you and are just asking you casual questions. However, the best type of police interrogators are skilled at making the individual they are questioning feel comfortable and not feel that they are being interrogated at all, so that they will open up and provide as much information as possible.

On the other hand, in a non-custodial interview, where you are free to leave at any time, law enforcement is not required to read you your Miranda rights, yet anything you say can still be held against you in court. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell if you are in police custody and they failed to inform you of your Miranda rights or if you are not in custody. It can sometimes be intimidating to speak with law enforcement and even if you are free to leave at any time, it may not feel that way.

Violation of Miranda Rights as a Defense Strategy

As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we always encourage clients to immediately invoke their right to remain silent. If you did speak to police and are facing criminal charges, our attorneys can investigate your case after the fact to determine if your constitutional rights were violated. If police did not follow required protocol with regard to your Miranda rights, we can use this as a way to have evidence obtained during the course of the investigation, including any statements or admissions you made, deemed inadmissible. This means the prosecution cannot use them against you. Often, when we have critical evidence thrown out, we can use this to negotiate for downgraded charges or have the charges dismissed altogether.

For example, in this case, our criminal defense attorneys were able to have criminal charges for marijuana possession and drug paraphernalia downgraded to an ordinance, which is essentially a ticket, based on violations of our client’s right to remain silent.

Overall, anything you say to police can be held against you in court— that is why your right to remain silent in a criminal investigation is so important. The best practice is to invoke your right to remain silent whenever you are in doubt and always state that you would like to contact your lawyer and you will not answer any questions without the presence of your lawyer.

Criminal Charge Defense Attorneys in Hoboken, New Jersey

If you are taken into custody by law enforcement or are involved in a criminal investigation, contact the experienced New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at our William Proetta Criminal Law for immediate assistance. We are thoroughly prepared to represent you during police questioning and during all critical stages of the criminal justice process. If you have been charged with a criminal offense or DWI, our attorneys will examine all of the evidence to determine if and how your rights may have been violated. For additional information and an absolutely free consultation, contact our Jersey City office at (201) 793-8018 or send us a message online. We serve all of Hudson County and New Jersey, including Hoboken, Bayonne, Kearny, North Bergen, Secaucus, and nearby areas.

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.