Winding down your driver's-side car window with a uniformed police officer standing on the other side of it can be an extremely stressful experience. If the officer asks if you realize how fast you were traveling, what should you say? If he or she asks you to step out of your vehicle, does it mean you're going to jail? There is really no way to predict what the ultimate outcome of such situations might be. It may wind up hinging on the officer's word against yours.
However, whether you're driving in Washington or some other state, certain traffic laws or criminal laws might vary, but other regulations are the same, such as the fact that a police officer who intends to question you under custody must inform you of your Miranda rights. It's critical that you understand these issues and know where to seek support if a problem arises.
Do you know your rights?
A question of whether or not you received your Miranda rights may arise if you are facing drunk driving or other criminal charges in court and believe a law enforcement agent deviated from regulations during a traffic stop, arrest process or any part of an investigation. If authorities plan to question you after taking you into custody, they must give you the following information:
- You do not have to speak without legal representation by your side.
- You may invoke you right to remain silent unless and until you have secured assistance from a criminal defense attorney.
- Anything you say or do could incriminate you should you later face charges in court.
These are not the only statements a Washington police officer must recite to you before an interrogation takes place under arrest. Key issues include the facts that you must be in police custody and a law enforcement agent must intend to question you under custody before police are legally bound to inform you of your Miranda rights. If you think someone violated your rights, there are definite steps you can take to bring the matter to the court's attention.
If police arrest you, you may face embarrassment in your family, at work and in other areas of your personal or professional life. The good news is that it may be possible to avoid conviction, especially if police didn't follow the rules when they took you into custody.