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Understanding your rights after you are arrested

One of the first thing officers are likely to do after you are placed under arrest for a drug crime is read you your Miranda rights. While you may have heard these familiar lines in any movie or TV show involving law enforcement, they take on a completely different significance when it is you in the handcuffs.

Contrary to what it seems like on TV, your Miranda rights are not actually related to your arrest and are actually meant to ensure you are informed of your rights before police begin to question you. Every U.S. citizen has the right to have an attorney present when they are questioned while in police custody, and this is protected by the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Having an attorney present during questioning is very important. It is the officer's job to try to get you to give information that may show if you were responsible for or involved in a drug crime, and officers use many different tactics to achieve this. When an attorney is with your during questioning, he or she will let you know when you should refrain from answering a question and invoke your right to remain silent. Similarly, your attorney will let you know when answering the questions may be in your best interests.

Reading you your Miranda rights is an important step for officers in the arrest and investigation because if you acknowledge that you understand your rights and continue to answer questions, the officers can use anything you say to their advantage later on. Invoking your right to an attorney directly after acknowledging your Miranda rights is the best course of action.

Source: The State Bar of California, "What should I know if I am arrested?," accessed June 22, 2015

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