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Can police arrest a suspect without questioning in Utah?

Many people have been charged and arrested for a crime without being given the opportunity by police to tell their side of the story. It is natural to want to tell your side of the story - especially when serious  criminal allegations are made against you. While this may feel frustrating at first, not telling your side of the story to police may actually be one of the best things a criminal defendant can do.

Before a suspect is arrested on criminal charges in Utah, police typically must have evidence to show that there is probable cause to believe that this particular suspect committed a particular crime. This showing of probable cause may be supported by physical evidence, information gathered from eyewitnesses, a confession from the suspect, or other sources of evidence. A person who is arrested without being questioned (or a person who invokes the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination) may often have an advantage when it comes to defending the criminal case in court. If you have been contacted by police or if you have been arrested, consultation with an experienced Utah criminal attorney can help give you the best chance of successfully defending your case.

What is the purpose of a police interview or interrogation?

There are a number of reasons that Utah police may want to interview or question a suspect before making an arrest. Police may have received a report of criminal activity, but may not yet have decided whether the report is credible. In such a circumstance, police may want to get a statement from the suspect to help them determine whether or not a crime occurred. Police may also want to question a suspect when they do not not have enough evidence to support a finding of probable cause. In such a circumstance, they may be hoping that the suspect will either confess or inadvertently give them enough information or evidence to support the necessary probable cause to make an arrest.

In either one of the above circumstances, a suspect (whether guilty or innocent) who fails to invoke the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent runs a real risk of providing police with the information needed to support an arrest and the subsequent filing of criminal charges. Some people will agree to speak to police in hopes that they may be able to provide information that will ispell any suspicions of criminal activity. But in doing so, a person runs a real risk of providing the police with exactly the information they need to make an arrest and file charges.

When are the Miranda warnings required?

If a suspect is arrested and remains in custody at the time of questioning, police are required to give the Miranda warnings to inform the person of the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and other rights. If the person is not in custody, the police are not required to notify him or her of any Constitutional rights. Police often use this legal point to their advantage - questioning the suspect and obtaining a confession before formally arresting and taking the suspect into custody. Thus, it is important for any person being questioned by police to consider whether to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege, even if not under arrest at the time of questioning.

What if the police do not read the Miranda rights?

If police obtain a confession from a person after being arrested, but without giving the Miranda warnings, that confession or other statements made by the person may be kept out at trial through a successful motion to suppress. If the judge suppresses statements made without the required Miranda warning, then a prosecutor is not allowed to use those statements as evidence at trial. Further, any evidence obtained through un-Mirandized statements or confessions may also be suppressed as "fruit of the poisonous tree."

When should I talk to an attorney?

If you are the suspect in a criminal investigation or have been contacted by police in Utah with a request for an interview, it is always a good idea to speak to a Utah criminal defense attorney before you make any statements or answer any questions. The Constitution gives you the right to remain silent and to refuse to answer any questions or make any statements to police. An experienced attorney can help you understand the risks and the benefits of talking to the police.

If police have already gathered sufficient information to support an arrest and criminal charges, they may choose not to spend the extra time interviewing or questioning the suspect. This failure to get a statement from a suspect can often weaken the prosecution's case and give the defendant an advantage in defending the case in court. If you are facing criminal charges in Utah, you should contact an experienced criminal lawyer to discuss the best way to defend your case. It is often to your advantage to wait to present your side of the case in court rather than to the police.

Finding a Criminal Lawyer in Utah

When facing criminal charges in Utah, having an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can be critical to achieving the best results. As a Utah criminal lawyer based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout the state. His track record includes not guilty verdicts and dismissals of Utah criminal charges including aggravated robbery, child kidnapping, aggravated assault, burglary, drug possession, drug distribution, DUI, forgery, fraud, theft, and more.

Each case is unique, and obtaining an independent case analysis from an experienced attorney can help you understand the best strategy for defending your case. Contact us now to schedule a consultation with Utah defense lawyer Stephen Howard.

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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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