You might wonder why does this blog post begin with a quote from (and photograph of) the late Soviet dissident and Nobel Prize-winning author, Alexander Solzhenitsen. It is because, in my opinion, no one else has ever written more forcefully or eloquently about what is like to be arrested and imprisoned in one of the worst judicial and prison systems in world history.
Maybe you live in the center of your own universe. Hopefully, you live worry-free in a free society. But have you ever wondered how you would react if you were arrested by police for a crime you did not commit? Please understand that, while I wouldn't want to worry anyone, and although it probably will never happen to you, it could happen and, if it does happen, you should know how to react. If you live in the United States, here are a few important Constitutional rights for you to consider in deciding how you would react to a false arrest:
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court recognized that, if you are arrested, it will be a very stressful situation and a coercive environment with the police attempting to obtain a confession. As a result, the Court fashioned the so-called Miranda rights which the police are required to advise to anyone who is: (a) in police custody, and (b) who is being interrogated. Everyone knows about these rights, including that "you have the right to remain silent...and the right to the presence of an attorney...." But do you understand how to invoke your rights and make the interrogation stop?
The important point here is that, if you are ever arrested, rightly or wrongly, all you must do, in order to invoke your Constitutional rights and "buy some time," is to "lawyer up" by simply asking the police for a lawyer, and/or telling them you choose to exercise your right to remain silent. The interrogation should stop. (And you should stop talking, too!) Then, after the interrogation has stopped, you can consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding how to proceed.
Every situation is different and you alone must decide how to handle it. But if you want to know how, as a practical matter, to make the police interrogation stop until you can exercise your Constitutional right to consult with a lawyer, then I hope this post has helped! We are fortunate to have these rights in this country. Sadly, many arrested people throughout the world, including Solzhenitsen, have had no protection of their fundamental rights.