Movies and television shows have assuredly impacted how many Massachusetts residents view individual rights when being questioned by the police. It makes for a good entertainment script, but it is hardly what actually happens when the police attempt to glean information regarding possible criminal activity. While the U.S. Constitution does include the general right to not incriminate ourselves, that does not always apply in a criminal investigation when questions are being asked.
Although it’s true that you generally have no obligation to talk to the police, you are required to give them identifying information such as name and address if requested to do so. In fact, refusing to do so can be a crime. What’s more, lying to the police regarding a criminal investigation can be construed as obstruction of justice.
Understanding your Miranda rights
The Miranda ruling handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding self-incrimination only applies after being arrested. The Miranda ruling does include the right to remain silent. This is also known as invoking the 5th Amendment. However, it is vital to remain consistently noncommunicative unless a criminal defense attorney is present.
How an attorney can help
Reasonable doubt is the standard for conviction when criminal cases are prosecuted, and that will be the focus of any criminal defense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can question all evidence in building as much reasonable doubt as possible. This includes cross-examining other witnesses who may have lied to officers when the case was investigated.
Although the right to a phone call is established in Massachusetts state law, you should remember that the call may be recorded. For that reason, it’s best not to discuss details of the case over the phone. This is your opportunity to contact your family, a bail bondsman or your attorney, so use that call wisely.