- Should I talk to the police?
If you are a suspect in a criminal case, you have the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. Exercising the right against self-incrimination is often referred to as “Pleading the Fifth” because it is found in the language of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If you are being questioned by the police, it is always in your best interest to exercise your right to remain silent until you have an opportunity to consult with your criminal defense attorney.
- What are Miranda Rights?
The Miranda Rights are warnings that the police must read to you, before they can interrogate you about a crime. In Georgia, the police must tell you that you have the following 4 rights:
- You have the right to remain silent. And that anything you say can and will be used against you in court.
- You have the right to consult with an attorney and to have an attorney present with you while you are being questioned by the police.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, the court will appoint an attorney to represent you free of charge.
- You can decide at any time to exercise your Miranda Rights, and not answer any questions or make any statements.
- When are police officers required to read you Miranda Rights?
If you are in police custody, police officers are required to read you Miranda Rights prior to questioning you about the case. For purposes of Miranda Rights, being in police custody doesn’t just mean being arrested or sitting in jail. You are in police custody anytime you are detained by the police in any way that makes you believe you are not free to leave. For example: the police come to your house, ask to speak to you in the living room, and tell you that you cannot leave. Even though you don’t even have handcuffs on, because you are not free to leave, the police must read you Miranda Rights before they question you.
- Can the police search your home without a search warrant?
Typically, police officers must have a search warrant before they can search your home; however, there are a few exceptions. Below is a list of the most typical exceptions, but this list is not comprehensive.
- Consenting to the Search – If the police ask for your permission to search your house and you let them (in other words, consent), then they do not need a search warrant and the search is considered legal under the law.
- Search Incident to Arrest– If the police are executing an arrest warrant at your house, they can search your house for the person, named in the warrant, and for weapons. This search is considered necessary for officer safety and is a legal search under the law.
- Exigent Circumstances – The law recognizes that sometimes, extreme circumstances arise, which make it impossible for the police to obtain a search warrant.
- For example: if a suspect is being chased by the police and flees into someone’s house, then the police can go into that house, without a search warrant, and search for the suspect. If, while searching for the suspect, they happen to see contraband, they can confiscate it.
- Another example is when the police have good reason to believe that a crime is currently being committed inside of a house, they can go into that house, without a search warrant, to intercept the commission of the crime.
- A third example is when the police have good reason to believe that evidence is being destroyed inside of a house, they can go into that house, without a search warrant, to prevent the destruction of evidence. In all three examples, the searches would be legal under the law, even though the police didn’t have search warrants.
- Can the police track a cell phone?
The police cannot track your cell phone for no reason. In order for the police to legally track your cell phone, they must first obtain a search warrant for your cell phone provider’s location (GPS) data. To secure a search warrant for that data, the police have to convince a magistrate judge that there is probable cause to believe you are engaged in criminal activity and their investigation requires the tracking of your cell phone. If they fail to follow the appropriate procedures, your criminal defense attorney should file a motion to suppress that evidence.