Being put under arrest can be a scary experience. For first-time offenders trying to cooperate with law enforcement, these initial moments can be confusing and sometimes lead to statements that harm their outcome. Most of us have heard, "you have the right to remain silent," but not everyone understands how important this right is. This blog discusses the ways law enforcement sometimes obtain confessions in an unlawful manner.
Why Your Right to Remain Silent Is Important
For prosecutors, securing a conviction against a defendant is a matter of identifying what led to their arrest and showing that they had criminal intent. Your Miranda Rights (the right to remain silent being among them) help you avoid incriminating yourself. When you hear, "anything you say will be used against you in a court of law," it literally means your words are fuel for a prosecutor's interest in convicting you of a crime.
Along with your right to remain silent, you are afforded an attorney to help you find a favorable resolution to your case.
When Your Rights Are Infringed Upon
Not all law enforcement officers act in accordance with the law. Many who are arrested never hear those rights—they may even be coerced into a confession of their crime because a police officer says they have to. It is important to know that these kinds of confessions are unlawful. An experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer can object to such a confession being used in court against you.
Coercion can take many forms. If you are held for long periods of time in a police station, for example, your attorney can argue that any statements you made during that time were not of your own free will. Young people are also at a higher risk of confessing to law enforcement, largely because they don't understand how it could negatively affect them. This is also true of people with mental or cognitive disabilities.
Forcing a Testimony Out of a Defendant
At its worst, law enforcement could be guilty of more than just coercion. Some defendants report receiving threats, false promises of "making it easier" for themselves, refusal to let them go to the bathroom or eat, and even being injured. If you confess to a crime, it must be voluntary in order to be admissible in court. If you were not given a choice, your lawyer can fight to ensure you are not punished due to unlawful practices.
Altered Mental State
Mental and cognitive disabilities aren't the only states of mind that can call a confession into question. If a person is severely intoxicated or under the influence of mind-altering drugs, the things they say as a result may not necessarily be proof of what really happened that led to their arrest.
The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
If a prosecutor uses an unlawful confession in trying to convict you, your greatest asset is your free will. Defending against those charges means you will need to prove that you did not have the freedom to act otherwise, and an attorney can help you do that. By examining how evidence was obtained and how it is being used, you can fight to ensure you get the best chance at a favorable outcome for your situation.
At Ahmad Law Firm, we scrutinize every detail of our clients' cases. This means reviewing facts that may have been taken for granted. If you are facing criminal charges in Chicago, call (847) 791-2294 today or contact us online to schedule your consultation.