George F. Hildebrandt
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Must I answer questions when I have pending criminal charges?

Many young adults in Syracuse are not aware of how important it is for them to know their rights and how they apply to various situations they may end up in. When criminal charges are on the table, it is important to use every available resource available, including a good defense attorney. The police are not on your side. Though you may feel you can talk things over with law enforcement to get them to drop the charges against you, that is very unlikely to happen. 

Sometimes it is best to say nothing to police officers. Their job is to gather evidence to support your criminal charge, and one common tactic police and investigators use to perform their duties is interrogation and conversation. If you do not know your rights, you could end up incriminating yourself without realizing it. You do not have to answer questions about the alleged crime. Take some time to learn what the police can do during an arrest.

What is the right to stay silent? 

Your constitutional rights include the right to remain silent. Once in police custody, they must read you your Miranda Rights. Many people do not realize that custody is subjective. Walking into a police station of your own accord where you are free to leave is not custody. Custody implies that you are not free to leave and, in many cases, are under arrest. The Miranda Rights include the right to say nothing when questioned by police. Dealing with law enforcement can be tricky, especially if you have criminal charges pending. You do not have to submit to questioning without your legal representation present to prevent your words becoming misconstrued and used as evidence. Police cannot hold your refusal against you. 

There are circumstances where answering questions can help your case. The law is very complicated, and it is crucial for you to have an in-depth understanding of your situation and rights. Such insight can help you improve the outcome of your case and possibly help you to avoid a conviction.

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