Unhappy teenage girlThis is the second post in our series on Miranda issues for those accused of crimes in Arkansas. Our last post presented an overview of this series and stressed the importance of contacting a criminal defense attorney if you are accused of a crime. It is important to understand that you have the right to remain silent and not provide evidence against yourself. When you are in custody, the police must advise you of your right to remain silent and to consult an attorney. In general, any waiver of your right to remain silent must be knowing, voluntary and intelligent. That means you must understand what is happening and deliberately give statements to police. Some populations have special rules protecting them from police interrogation. This post will explore how these rights apply to special groups.

Understanding how the right to remain silent applies to Arkansas residents with special needs

Arkansas courts will look at individual situations when deciding whether you intelligently waived your right to remain silent. This means that there will be additional considerations if the accused is someone with special needs. Here are a few examples that are commonly encountered in court:

Juveniles: Arkansas law requires that a juvenile be advised in their primary language of their right to have their parent or guardian present as well as their Miranda rights. The minor can assert their right to remain silent by asking for a parent or guardian.  A minor may waive their rights and give a statement to police, but in Juvenile Court, a parent or guardian must agree with a minor’s waiver of their Miranda rights.  This is not true, however, if the minor is charged in Circuit Court.  A minor may still waive their Miranda rights so long as the advisement was given using words the minor could understand and the waiver was knowing, voluntary and intelligent. The Court will take into consideration the minor’s age, education and intelligence, as well as their familiarity with the court system and prior police contact. Statements given in violation of these rules may be excluded from court.   

Developmentally Disabled and Other Disadvantaged Persons: People with specific intellectual and developmental deficits are afforded special protections under the law. If a person is unable to appreciate their rights due to a disability then any statements may be excluded from court. Special hearings might be required to investigate the voluntariness of any statement given by someone who is developmentally disabled, suffering from mental illness, or who was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time the statement was given.

Non-English Speakers: Those for whom English is not their first or preferred language must hear Miranda advisements in a way they can understand.  This means the translation must be accurate and it must be in a language the accused speaks fluently.

Arkansas Residents Who Have Given Statements to Police Should Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately

Whether or not your right to remain silent and refrain from incriminating yourself has been violated is a complicated legal question. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer familiar with this area of law can increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Benca & Benca take a collaborative approach to fighting the admissibility of your statements in court. Contact our Little Rock, Arkansas criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation. We also handle matters in Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff, and throughout the state.