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Fifth Amendment Attorney - Utah Criminal Defense

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees each person the privilege against self incrimination. This privilege (sometimes referred to as the "right to remain silent") can be one of the most important rights in Utah criminal cases. This privilege applies both during the investigation stage of the case and at trial. A violation of these rights can form the basis of a motion to suppress evidence, and may in some cases result in a complete dismissal of charges.

As an experienced Utah criminal attorney, Stephen Howard can help you understand how your Fifth Amendment rights may affect your case. If you are facing felony or misdemeanor criminal charges in Utah, contact us today for an initial consultation. Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard offers legal services to clients throughout Utah.

Privilege Against Self-Incrimination - Right to Remain Silent

Utah Attorney for Fifth Amendment Miranda RightsOn television, when a person is arrested, the police read the Miranda warnings. "You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you. . . ." Decades of police television shows have created the belief that police are required to read the Miranda warnings immediately upon arrest, and that failure to do so can mean that the case must be dismissed.

The Miranda warnings are real. But they don't always work the way television portrays them.

The Fifth Amendment guarantees the privilege against self-incrimination. That means that police cannot force you to talk to them, and a judge can't force you to testify in your own criminal case. In order to protect those rights, the United States Supreme Court has set forth the Miranda warnings, which must be given anytime police are going to interrogate or question a person who is in custody.

It sounds simple enough, but it gets complicated very quickly. There is a substantial body of case law that has developed just around the question of whether a person is in custody. Is being handcuffed enough? What about being handcuffed in a police car? When exactly is the person taken into "custody." Is it when the officer forms the intent to take the person into custody? Or is it when the person being arrested realizes that he is under arrest?

There are also gray areas relating to the issue of what constitutes "questioning" by police? What about a person who invokes their Miranda rights, and later starts to talk to police. After a person invokes their Miranda rights, can the police come back later and ask if he has changed his mind? These are just a few examples of questions that have been hotly debated and argued in the courts over exactly how much protection the Fifth Amendment gives.

The Fifth Amendment Miranda Rights and Motions to Suppress

A violation of a defendant's Fifth Amendment rights does not automatically guarantee a dismissal of the criminal case. In evaluating how a Miranda violation may affect the case, it is critical to consider what evidence the police obtained as a result of that violation. Both the incriminating statements made by the defendant as well as other evidence obtained based on those statements (the "fruit of the poisonous tree") can be suppressed if a court determines that the statements and other evidence were the result of constitutional violations committed by police.

In order to put this issue before the court for consideration, an appropriate motion to suppress must be filed. When a suppression motion is filed, the court will typically schedule an evidentiary hearing where each side (the prosecution and the defense) may present testimony, witnesses, or other evidence showing whether or not the police committed a violation of the defendant's Fifth Amendment Rights. Following the evidentiary hearing on the motion to suppress, the court will allow each side to present legal arguments in support of its position. These arguments may be made orally in court, or the judge may allow each side an opportunity to formally brief the issues (present written arguments on the issues).

If the court determines that police did in fact violate the defendant's Fifth Amendment rights, the court must then determine what evidence should be suppressed. If the suppressed evidence is critical to the prosecutor's case, then the prosecutor may choose to dismiss the entire case. If the prosecutor believes that there is still sufficient evidence to support the charges, without considering the suppressed evidence, then the prosecutor may choose to go forward with the case.

Utah's Constitution and the Right to Remain Silent

Article I Section 12 of the Utah Constitution provides that the accused (the defendant) "shall not be compelled to give evidence against himself." This right has generally been interpreted as being consistent with the United States Constitution's Fifth Amendment.

Finding a Utah Criminal Attorney in Salt Lake City

Utah Criminal Defense LawyerIf you are facing Utah criminal charges and have made any statements to the police, you should consult with an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney to determine whether your Fifth Amendment rights have been violated.

Stephen Howard has defended thousands of Utah criminal cases ranging from Aggravated Murder to DUI, and just about everything in between. His record of achieving real results for his clients demonstrates clearly the skill he brings to each case he handles.

Contact us now to see how Stephen Howard can help with your case.

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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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