No matter what crime you are accused of, you have rights under the law. The Fifth Amendment protects you from self-incrimination in the form of the Miranda warning.
Most people recognize these four simple phrases. They have permeated American culture so deeply that many people know them by heart. But what do they really mean?
You have the right to remain silent.
Staying silent is a sure-fire way to prevent you from incriminating yourself. It does not matter whether you committed the crime. If you make a statement that police or investigators consider to be incriminating, it can seriously damage your case.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
If you do not stay silent, your words can incriminate you. Saying something in anger or fear can severely impact the outcome of your trial. Even if what you say is not true, you said it. It can and will be used against you to the fullest extent of the law.
You have the right to an attorney.
Having adequate legal representation is key to any criminal defense. A lawyer is there to advise you on what you can and cannot say without self-incriminating. You are legally allowed to represent yourself, but it is not usually a good idea unless you are familiar with the law.
If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
The law entitles you to fair representation. If you do not have the money to pay for a lawyer, the court will appoint you a public defender.