When someone is in police custody and being questioned about a crime that has taken place, the police must give Miranda warnings. The right to remain silent is included in the Miranda warnings to protect a suspect from self-incrimination. You have probably heard this warning before on TV or in the movies.
Anyone who finds himself in this situation should remain silent because, as the Miranda warning states, anything you say can and will be used against you.
If you have started talking and suddenly remember your right to remain silent, stop! It is worth stressing that it is always best to exercise your right to remain silent from the start of your time in police custody. However, you can still exercise it if you happen to remember your right during the questioning. Exercising this right in Illinois, or any state, does not require any specific language. Just say that you are doing so or simply say nothing. The police must stop questioning.
"Good cop/Bad cop" doesn't just happen in the movies and it is not always dramatic. For example, if you are questioned about shoplifting, the "good cop" might tell you it is routine and try to convince you to talk. Remain silent. You have the right to remain silent and should exercise it, no matter how informal the situation may seem.
Don't forget your right regarding written statements. Your signature "speaks" for you and whatever you sign - a confession or even a simple statement - can and will be used against you.
You may have done nothing wrong and your words may seem harmless but once you have said them - verbally or in a written statement - they can still be twisted and later used against you.
After you are released from police custody, don't talk to anyone, including family members, friends or co-workers. By talking to anyone, you have instantly involved that person and he or she can all be called as a witness against you. That said, you do have attorney-client privilege with a lawyer and can speak freely with them.
If you find yourself being questioned in police custody, remain calm and simply ask to have your attorney present.
For more information on criminal laws we suggest you visit http://www.findgreatlawyers.com/0FeloniesMisdemeanors.htm
Michael Helfand has been an Illinois attorney since 1997 and is founder of http://www.findgreatlawyers.com the leading resource for Illinois lawyer referrals and legal guidance.
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