Understanding What It Means to Waive Rights
The government of the United States recognizes that all people have certain fundamental rights. When the police want to interrogate you, they must make you aware of your rights through the Miranda warning. This is necessary because you may be asked to waive these rights while you are in custody. Any attorney will tell you that waiving your rights is a mistake in most cases. By waiving your rights, you give up the legal protection they afford you.
Police officers want all detainees to waive their Miranda rights. This makes it easier for them to question you and lead you into self-incrimination. Your Miranda rights include the right to remain silent while in custody and the right to have an attorney present during questioning. These rights can be waived simply by talking to the police and answering their questions. However, they may also ask you to sign a waiver.
A waiver of rights is a document explicitly stating that you give up your rights to remain silent and your right to have an attorney with you while being interrogated. This document helps the police to use any statements you make as evidence against you in court. In some cases, police officers may use dishonest means to get you to sign a waiver of rights. Some of the tactics that have been employed in the past include the following:
- The officer may tell you the waiver is just routine paperwork that must be signed
- You may be told that it is an acknowledgement that you understand your rights
- You may be asked to sign the waiver if you want to tell your side of the story
- The officer may tell you that you are going to sit alone in a room until you sign the waiver
Most attorneys advise against signing a waiver of rights in all circumstances. If asked to sign one, simply return it to the officer and state that you want to speak to your lawyer.