defendant and police questioning

What Are a Defendant’s Rights During Questioning in Texas?

When someone is suspected of committing a crime, the Texas police have the right to conduct an investigation into his or her role in order to find out more about the alleged crime. However, it’s important to understand that even suspects have rights while in police custody. The best way to protect yourself during police questioning is by understanding what you are entitled to. This is especially important, as it can majorly impact the outcome of your case if your rights are violated. 

What Are Your Rights?

You’ve probably heard them said in television shows and movies without knowing their name. Miranda rights, part of the rights of the Fifth Amendment, apply when someone is being taken into custody and questioned. The purpose of Miranda rights (the name for the case in which they originated) is to protect people from self-incrimination. Your Miranda rights, also known as a Miranda warning explains that you have:

  • The right to remain silent
  • The right to an attorney
  • The right to an appointed attorney if the suspect is unable to afford one

The police officer must also explain to the suspect that anything that he or she says can and will be used against them in a court of law. In other words, anything that you say can be used as evidence against you – even if you say something that you don’t mean. It’s for this reason that it’s in your best interest to remain silent and to express that you will not speak until you have an attorney present. However, it’s important that you express that you absolutely request an attorney rather than mention that you “think” you should have one. This is because some cases say that a request for a lawyer must be “unequivocal” – or clear. 

You always have the right to remain silent. In almost every instance imaginable, it is a bad idea to speak to the police, particularly without a lawyer present. In general, if the police have enough evidence to charge you with a criminal offense, there is nothing that you can say that will prevent charges from being filed. If the police lack evidence, then by speaking to the police you risk giving the police the evidence they lack. This advice applies regardless of whether you are charged with theft, DWI, or assault-family violence. You must identify yourself to the police, but beyond that, it is almost always a good idea to refuse to answer questions. 

Fifth Amendment Violations

When a suspect has been treated unfairly and/or not given their Miranda rights, it can help to bolster the defense. Anything that you say after this violation cannot be used as it is considered the “fruit of the poisonous tree.” In other words, if it was information only obtained after the violation, it must be as if it was never said. 

Recently, in a murder trial in Houston, attorney Jose Ceja convinced a judge to suppress a statement made by the defendant after the defendant was taken to a jail – supposedly voluntarily – and interviewed for several hours in a locked room with an armed detective. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Whose Fifth Amendment Rights Have Been Violated

If you or a loved one has had your Fifth Amendment rights – or any rights for that matter – violated, it can greatly impact the outcome of your case. In some cases, it can be the difference between a guilty and not guilty verdict. That’s why it’s so important that you consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Houston criminal defense attorney, who can help to inform you of your rights and walk you through the legal process. 

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the serious nature of a criminal charge. That’s why we will work to help reduce or entirely drop the charges against you. We will help you to obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!