If you have been arrested for a crime in Tennessee, you may find yourself in police custody, where you will likely be interrogated by law enforcement officers trained to do whatever it takes to get a confession. Unfortunately, some officers cross the line and use tactics that are illegal to get you to incriminate yourself. Unlawful interrogations are often a violation of a person’s Fifth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. Any confessions, admissions, or other information spoken by a defendant in police custody may not be used against them in court if the information was obtained illegally.
What makes an interrogation illegal?
Before an officer is allowed to question the person they arrested, they are legally required to read them their Miranda rights. Many of us have heard some variation of them in crime shows and movies. Generally, the Miranda rights are:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say or do can be used against you in court.
- You have the right to an attorney (attorney can be present before and during interrogation).
- If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have one appointed to you.
Reading you your Miranda rights is only part of the interrogation process when you are facing federal criminal charges. Illegal interrogations may also occur when:
- An officer continues to ask you questions even after you have requested an attorney.
- Keeping you isolated in the questioning room for an excessive length of time.
- Refuse to provide necessities during interrogation (e.g., food, water, medical attention).
If an officer did not read you your Miranda rights or you have been subjected to an unlawful interrogation, anything you said during that interrogation may not be used against you in court. A criminal defense attorney can review your case and help determine if your constitutional rights were violated by law enforcement.