1. You have the right to remain silent

Pursuant to the Maine and U.S. Constitutions, you have the right to not incriminate yourself. See U.S. Const. amend. V; Me. Const. art. I, §6. However, this right wasn't fully defined and outlined until the U.S. Supreme Court decide Miranda v. Arizona. According to Miranda, "unless other fully effective means are devised to inform accused persons of their right of silence and to assure a continuous opportunity to exercise it, the following measures are required. Prior to any questioning, the person must be warned that he has a right to remain silent, that any statement he does make may be used as evidence against him, and that he has a right to the presence of an attorney, either retained or appointed." Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966).

In Maine, the Maine Supreme Court, referred to as the Law Court, has said that “[s]tatements made during a custodial interrogation are admissible only if the person making the statements has been advised of the rights referred to in Miranda v. Arizona.” State v. Prescott, 2012 ME 96, 48 A.3d 218, 221. However, this leads to the question of what is custodial interrogation?

“Custodial interrogation occurs whenever a person is questioned by law enforcement officials while he is in custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom in any significant way.” State v. Preston, 411 A.2d 402, 405 (Me. 1980). “[Miranda] warnings must be given to a defendant whenever [s]he is subjected to custodial interrogation.” Id. “[A Court’s] “ultimate inquiry is whether a reasonable person standing in the shoes of [the defendant] would have felt [that] she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave or if there was a restraint on freedom of movement of the degree associated with a formal arrest.” Prescott, 2012 ME 96, ¶10, 48 A.3d 218. Stated otherwise, “[a]n interrogation is custodial if a reasonable person standing in the shoes of [the defendant] would have felt he or she was not at liberty to terminate the interrogation and leave.” State v. Lowe, 2013 ME 92, ¶16, ___ A.3d ___.

What this means for the citizens of Maine is that when the police stop or detain you, you have the right to remain silent. You do not have to talk to the police, and you certianly have the right to a lawyer. However, the police do not have to Mirandize a person unless the person is in custody and if the police plan on questioning him or her. This is an important distinction to make as the police do not have to Mirandize someone, even if that person is in custody (for example, under arrest, inter alia) if there is no intent by the police to "question" him or her. This is a point most people do not realize.

Therefore, when stopped or detained, you do not have to and should not answer any questions that can or will later be used agaisnt you. If you are arrested the situation is certainly custodial, and if only detained, it is likely custodial as well. Therefore, do not incriminate yourself! Be polit and courteous to the officer(s), but you do not have to talk, and should not. Even if the situation is custodial, there is no requirement that you be Mirandzied until the police "question" you or "interrogate" you. Do not assume that the lack of Miranda will make your statements inadmissible - it is very difficult to get statements suppressed at a later stage of the proceedings (while not impossible, it is very, very difficult). The point is - dont talk!

The above information is not intended as legal advice and is merely a recitation of existing Maine Law. The contents herein are merely informational and to be used for broad educational purposes only. Nothing contained on this page or any other part of this website creates an attorney/client relationship, nor is it inteded to do so. For further information/legal advice on an issue you have or may have, please contact Willey Law Offices, or another licensed Maine lawyer of your choosing.