Waiving Your Rights: Factors to Consider

If you are arrested on suspicion of DWI or for any other crime, you have rights. Most of the rights you have affect how the police, prosecutors, and courts interact with you during their investigations. At some point during their investigation, the police will most likely ask you to waive some right or another. Should you waive any rights?

Police officers hold a lot of authority, and it is human nature to want to succumb to that authority and comply with their requests. Each of us should be respectful and reasonable when it comes to interacting with police, but at the same time we should also be vigilant. In the course of an investigation the police have one job to do – collect evidence that leads to a conviction. As a result, they will use any legal means available to them to do so. But what should your position be when you are asked to waive your constitutional and legal rights?

Waiving Your Rights: A Case Study

A Texas Court of Appeals recently handed down a case that examined what the police must show and do in order to get a waiver of rights from a suspect. While this was an armed robbery case, the same principles would apply to a DWI investigation as well.

During their course of an investigation for armed robbery, the police arrested someone they suspected had committed the crime. After arresting the man they brought him to the police station where they began asking him questions about what involvement he had in the robbery. Prior to asking him questions, the police read the man a list of his statutory rights such as:

  • The right to remain silent;
  • Any statement would be held against him in trial;
  • The right to an attorney;
  • The right to terminate the interview at any time.

After reading him these rights the police asked the man if he understood, and he nodded in agreement. Then he gave the police several statements that they used against him in a trial that ultimately led to his conviction.

Following his conviction the man challenged the admission of his statements into trial, based on the fact that his waiver of his rights was not audible or voluntary. Under Texas law, even if the police inform you of your rights, they still have show that the waiver was knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily given . If they can not show this, the police and prosecutor can not use your statements in trial. In this case the court held that the fact the man talked to the police after being read his rights showed that he knowingly and voluntarily waived his rights.

As you can see from this example, the police had one objective in this interview – to get facts to use at trial and get a conviction. Every suspect for DWI or any other crime should always keep this in mind before giving any statement to the police. It ended poorly for this man, but it does not have to end the same way for you. Remember that you have rights, and that you do not have to say anything to the police after you are put under arrest. At the WIlder DWI Defense Firm our mission is to defend your rights in the course of your DWI case. If you have been arrested for DWI, contact us.

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