Can Police Use Any Statements I Made In The Absence Of An Attorney Against Me?
The courts have interpreted police questioning prior to an arrest as preliminary and non-coercive, which means any responses a person gives prior to arrest can be used against that person. In addition, any spontaneous statements that are made at will and not in response to a question can be used as evidence against the defendant. Once a person has been arrested, officers must advise them of the Miranda warnings. This became law after a case called Miranda vs. Arizona, wherein it was established that the police must advise a person who is in custody of their right to remain silent and their right to an attorney. That case also provides that a person must affirmatively waive or give up their rights.
Unfortunately—even after being advised—many people forget or disregard their rights by speaking to the police. A person who confronts the police has to be aware that even the most innocuous question will come back to be used against them. For example, an offer might ask, “Do you know why I pulled you over?” By asking such a question, they are clearly asking for an admission to buttress their own observations or create a reason to conduct an arrest. There are several other questions the police might ask in an attempt to gather information that would justify an arrest.
What Kind Of Training Do Police And Detectives Get When It Comes To Questioning People?
Police officers and detectives receive training with regard to the Miranda warnings, but most officers don’t receive specialized training aside from what they learn within the academy. They are trained to do whatever they can to generate information in support of prosecuting even the most innocent person. Their job is to enforce the law and our society wants to encourage police to do that, which is why there is such a low level of proof needed in order to justify a stop. However, we also want to prevent wrongful convictions and remind people of their Fifth, Sixth, and Fourth Amendment rights.
At trial, the state must prove every element of an offense beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest burden of proof in our law. The lowest burden of proof is reasonable suspicion, followed by probable cause. In civil cases, the most common burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence, which is generally used when parties in a civil suit are on equal footing in terms of power and resources. In criminal cases and civil cases that involve parties who have exclusive possession, custody, and control over the means of creating evidence, an extremely high burden of proof referred to as clear and convincing evidence will be required. Clear and convincing evidence is defined as evidence that is clear, direct, and ready enough to cause the finder of fact to make a conclusion about a certain issue without hesitation.
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