The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees your right to refuse to give testimony that could incriminate you. Pennsylvania law requires law enforcement officers to explain your rights to you when they arrest you.
This explanation is part of the Miranda Warning. You may choose to waive your Miranda rights; however, that choice is not irrevocable.
What is the Miranda Warning?
The Miranda Warning consists of five essential parts:
- Requirement for law enforcement to explain your rights
- Right for you to have an attorney
- Right to refuse to answer questions
- Right to challenge a Miranda violation
- Right to ask the court to exclude illegally obtained evidence from your case
You can waive any or all of these rights.
What if you waive your rights and then change your mind?
If you waive a right, such as your right to remain silent, the prosecution can use anything you say as part of its case against you in court. You cannot take back anything you volunteered unless the police violated your rights somehow. However, you can change your mind and refuse to further incriminate yourself by volunteering additional information.
How do you invoke your Miranda rights?
You can invoke your rights before or during questioning by stating that you wish to remain silent. You may also choose to refuse to answer questions without an attorney present. Once you request your rights, the police must stop interrogating you.
The Constitution gives you the right to avoid testifying against yourself. However, you must exercise this right to benefit from it.