If you are facing a criminal charge in Texas – or anywhere in the United States – you have the absolute right to zip your lip (other than speaking up to invoke your right to experienced legal counsel). While telling your side of events might seem like a good idea at the time, it is almost certainly not, and this is a theory that you should not test. Whatever the charge you face, the best path forward is with an experienced Lampasas criminal attorney on your side.
The Privilege against Self-Incrimination
Your right not to bear witness against yourself is protected in all the following ways:
- By the United States Constitution
- By the Texas Constitution
- By Texas statutes
No legal entity – regardless of how powerful – can force you to give up this privilege, but you can waive it voluntarily. All you have to do is speak up, and that is exactly what the officer or officers who are questioning you are hoping you will do. Anything you say can – and almost certainly – will be used against you when the opportunity arises. The Miranda warning that explicitly states your right to remain silent is a function of this privilege.
Your Rights in the State of Texas
While Miranda rights stem from a United States Supreme Court decision, which applies to the nation at large, Texas specifically includes the right to remain silent in state statutes. As such, if an accused person makes a statement, it can be used as evidence against him or her – as long as the statement was made voluntarily (was not coerced out of him or her). All of the following apply:
- The accused has the right to remain silent without making any statement at all.
- Any statement he or she does make can be used as evidence against the accused at trial.
- The accused has the right to have an attorney present to advise him or her prior to and/or during any questioning by the police or their agents.
- If the accused is unable to hire an attorney on his or her own, he or she has the right to have one appointed to advise him or her prior to and during any questioning by the police or their agents.
- The accused has the right to terminate questioning by the police or their agents at any time.
When Is Mirandizing Necessary?
A point that confuses many people is that if you have not been detained by an officer and he or she is simply asking you questions, the officer need not Mirandize you – and anything you say can still be used against you. This is often referred to as voluntary assistance, and if you decide to open up, you can land yourself in a world of hurt. When it comes to potential criminal charges, you are always better off with a dedicated criminal attorney by your side.
Reach out to an Experienced Attorney Today
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Lampasas, Texas, is committed to helping you prevail against the criminal charge you face. We are here for you, so please do not wait to contact or call us at 254-501-4040 today.