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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Alabama: Understanding Self-Incrimination

Posted by Sam P. Dixon, III | Jan 11, 2024 | 0 Comments

If you've been arrested in Birmingham, Alabama, it is important you speak to a defense attorney right away. At Dixon Law, LLC, we've successfully represented clients and we can defend your rights, as well. Contact us either online or by calling (205) 616-8896.

Charged with a Crime in Birmingham, Alabama? Do Not Incriminate Yourself

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution holds that you have the right against self-incrimination, specifically, it states:

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

This means that you cannot be forced to answer questions or otherwise provide information about yourself that will likely result in your facing criminal prosecution. It is also this amendment that gives you “the right to remain silent.” 

It is possible you have even heard of people invoking this right by “pleading the fifth.” By pleading the 5th Amendment, they have invoked their right against self-incrimination. 

When the 5th Amendment Does Not Apply

The 5th Amendment does not apply to certain types of evidence, like:

  • DNA evidence
  • Fingerprint evidence

This type of evidence is considered to be non-testimonial and the right against self-incrimination only applies to communicative evidence.

Why the Right against Self Incrimination is Important in Alabama

The right against self-incrimination is a cornerstone of our justice system. There are several reasons for this. 

  • It limits the power of the government. Mere suspicion by the government of someone's guilt is not enough; the government must actually prove their guilt. 
  • No one can be forced to confess (which can happen even when someone is not actually guilty).

The main purpose of the right against self-incrimination is to protect both the innocent and the guilty from being subject to government overreach. 

Self-Incrimination Violations

The police are unable to force you to incriminate yourself. It was held in Malloy v. Hogan, 378 US 1 (1966) that “when determining if state officers properly obtained a confession, one must focus on whether the statements were made freely and voluntarily without any direct or implied promised or improper influence.” In other words, the right against self-incrimination applies to situations where there is an attempt to force you to give testimony that will likely be used against you in a criminal proceeding. It does not apply when you offer the information voluntarily.

One of the ways your right against self-incrimination may be violated is when the police arrest you but do not read you the Miranda rights. Part of the Miranda rights state that you have the right to remain silent and that if you do speak, anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. Failure to inform you of this right may render any statement you give to police inadmissible if you are subsequently charged with a crime. Also, if the police violate this right by using improper influence on you, it may be grounds to have any evidence obtained by virtue of that violation dismissed. 

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama Use Self Incrimination Violations?

A constitutional rights violation can be a powerful and effective basis for your defense when you have been charged with a crime. A skilled criminal defense attorney can use this violation to have charges dismissed, confessions tossed, and evidence excluded. This is why you should call Dixon Law, LLC today at (205) 616-8896 for a Free Consultation.

About the Author

Sam P. Dixon, III

Mr. Sam P. Dixon, III was born in Mobile, Alabama. The great-grandson of the Alabama Governor, Frank Dixon, Sam has come from a long family history of politics and the legal profession. Mr. Dixon always admired and respected the legal profession and aspired to help people obtain justice and fairn...

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