It doesn’t matter whether you face charges for a non-violent misdemeanor or a violent felony; you receive the same rights under the United States Constitution. The Miranda Warning makes sure that you know you have the right to remain silent and the right to obtain counsel.
Before police can question you, a law enforcement official must read you these rights. If officers fail to do this prior to questioning, then a court may prevent the prosecutor from using against you in court anything that transpires. The same may also be true if police continue to question you after you invoke your rights.
Don’t mistakenly give up your rights
Like other people here in Maryland, you may believe that simply keeping your mouth shut is enough for police officers to realize that you wish to remain silent. Sadly, you would be wrong. In order for your Constitutional rights to kick in, you must expressly invoke them by saying something. You may think that in order to waive your rights, you have to sign something, but that isn’t necessarily the case.
People inadvertently waive their rights all the time without realizing it. If law enforcement officials perceive your behavior as a waiver of your rights, then anything you say could end up used against you in court. For instance, if you give statements to police after receiving your Miranda rights and acknowledging that you understand them, you waived your rights. Even if you remain silent for hours after your arrest, if you make a statement, you may have waived your rights.
If you don’t intend to waive your rights, then you need to clearly express that to officers. Use precise and not vague language. Make sure that you don’t behave in a manner that could indicate you intend to waive your right to remain silent or your right to counsel. Even if you start out acting as though you waived your rights, you can invoke them later, but it may not apply to statements made prior thereto.
Invoking your right to counsel
If you find yourself under arrest and a police officer reads your Miranda rights to you, make it clear to officers that you do not want to answer any questions. Expressly say that you are invoking your right to remain silent. Thereafter, the only other statement you may want to make is one indicating that you want to speak with an attorney.