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Criminal Defense From A Former Prosecutor

Do you really have the right to remain silent?

Every criminal accusation has several stages. In the California legal system, the main stages are investigation, arrest, negotiation and, in some cases, trial. These different stages each have specific legal concerns for criminal defendants.

In fact, the person is not a defendant until a certain stage of this process. There are various other terms, both formal and informal, such as suspect, arrestee and so on. With each stage and with each title, it is important to make the most of the rights and privileges available to minimize the possible long-term consequences of police and state action.

An essential right

This is a complicated process, with rules at every stage. There is one constant throughout, however: a person's constitutional right not to incriminate himself or herself. Exercising this right, commonly misinterpreted as a right to remain silent, is one of the key factors in preserving the future of someone facing criminal accusations.

A damaging myth

The attitude around this essential liberty, the right to remain silent, could lead some people facing criminal charges into a false sense of security. There is more to a case than keeping quiet. 

Even without personal testimony, the state probably has some evidence which it has gathered. If the issue goes to trial and the defendant then makes incriminating statements on the stand, all of the silence during an arrest would not do anything to help the case.

A sensible solution

Sometimes, an effective criminal defense is more about knowing what to say than it is about not saying anything. There could be certain statements that would preserve a defendant's rights and present the facts in such a way to secure a just verdict. However, this would depend entirely on the specifics of the given case. It is rarely, if ever, fruitful to follow general advice.

A thorough strategy

Although it is true that the right to remain silent is most often associated with the arrest stage of the criminal justice system, the liberty has a profound effect on every step. Understanding this elemental freedom and exercising it judiciously is often one of the greatest influences on a successful defense.

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