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Criminal Defense Lawyer in Kittitas and Yakima County: Understanding Self-Incrimination

Posted by Tony Swartz | Nov 30, 2022

Charged with a Crime in Ellensburg or Yakima? Do Not Incriminate Yourself

The 5th Amendment of the Constitution holds that you have the right against self-incrimination. 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. 

The 5th Amendment does not apply to DNA and fingerprint evidence. This type of evidence is considered to be non-testimonial and the right against self-incrimination only applies to communicative evidence.

If you've been arrested in Ellensburg or Yakima, it is important you speak to a defense attorney right away. At Law Office of Tony Swartz, I have successfully represented clients and I can defend your rights, as well. Contact us either online or by calling 509-293-7593.

Why the Right against Self Incrimination is Important in Washington

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 Ellensburg or Yakima 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 Law Office of Tony Swartz today at 509-293-7593 for a free consultation.

About the Author

Tony Swartz

Tony Swartz is an experienced lawyer in Washington State. He has handled, most from start to finish, over 10,000 criminal cases. He has dealt with various types of civil cases, including administrative law hearings, Superior Court cases, District Court cases, and more.

Law Office of Tony Swartz

Tony Swartz is a lawyer who practices criminal defense in Kittitas County and Yakima County who specializes in Ellensburg DUIs and Yakima DUIs. He also represents clients with speeding tickets and other infractions. Call today for a free consultation.

Tony moved to Ellensburg in 2005 and has lived here since other than a brief break for law school. He attended CWU and Willamette University College of Law. He is also on the executive board for Ellensburg Music Festival, Ellensburg Downtown Rotary, and Ellensburg Big Band (where he also plays trumpet).

Contact Info

​PO Box 684
Ellensburg, WA 98926
Office: 422 N Pine, Ellensburg WA 98926

[email protected]
509-293-7593
Fax: 509-295-8378

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