If you’re a fan of police and courtroom dramas on television, then you’re well aware of your right to remain silent. While knowing about this right and how to invoke it can go a long way toward ensuring your protection, there’s still a lot of misconceptions out there about just how far the right to remain silent goes and what law enforcement’s obligation is when it comes to informing individuals of this right. We hope that this blog will help provide some clarity so that you can better protect your interests and build the compelling criminal defense that you need.
What is the right to remain silent?
In short, the right to remain silent gives you the opportunity to protect yourself from making self-incriminating statements. Therefore, whenever the police talk to you, you can refrain from speaking to them without repercussion. If the police threaten you for not talking, then they may have violated your rights.
When does the right to remain silent apply?
Your right to remain silent is protected by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects you from self-incrimination. So, you’re probably never going to be under an obligation to talk to the police. A Supreme Court case known as Miranda laid the framework for when law enforcement has to inform individuals of their right to remain silent, which could be important in your criminal case.
When does a Miranda warning have to be given?
A Miranda warning has to be given anytime an individual is subjected to custodial interrogation. The question, then, becomes what constitutes being in police custody. In short, if you’re not free to leave, then you’re in police custody and should be informed of your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney so long as you are being questioned by the police. Sometimes law enforcement officers try to sidestep the required Miranda warning by being friendly with an individual to get him or her to talk outside of a police station. These officers hope that the subject being questioned doesn’t ask if they are free to leave or suspect in any way that they are in custody. In these instances, you need to be able to identify the police’s tactics and ask if you are free to leave. If you are, then you should go. If you’re not, then you should reach out to our attorney and stop talking.
What if my Miranda rights are violated?
If the police continue to question you without giving you a Miranda warning, or if they continue to subject you to interrogation despite you invoking your Miranda rights, then any subsequently gathered statements from you are illegally obtained. This means that, if you know how to make the proper arguments, you may be able to have that evidence suppressed. If you’re successful in doing so, then the prosecution will be prohibited from using those statements against you, which can be crucial for your case.
Know your rights and how to act on them
In the context of the criminal law, you have a lot of rights to protect you from unfair police and prosecutorial practices. But it’s oftentimes up to the individual who has been charged with a crime to invoke those rights and use them to his or her advantage. This isn’t always as easy as it seems, as the state will often make whatever arguments it can to try to show that it acted appropriately, even when it didn’t. So, if you want someone who can go toe-to-toe with aggressive prosecutors and law enforcement officers, then now may be the time to discuss the specific facts of your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney.