What is ‘The Right to Remain Silent?’ / What Does it Mean?
The Criminal Justice System can be a complex and confusing topic for many. It’s not every day that we call into question our knowledge of our own U.S. Constitutional Rights. Chances are, you have heard of the Fifth Amendment or “The Right to Remain Silent.” After all, it is recited many times in movies and television, but do you know what it means?
The Right to Remain Silent - The judicial doctrine that guarantees the right of any individual to refuse to answer questions from any police or judicial figure that could incriminate themselves. This is known as the privilege against self-incrimination. Also known as “Pleading the Fifth.”
The Right to Remain Silent is so important that in 1966, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the case of Miranda V. Arizona. This is what established our “Miranda Rights.” This landmark case made it so that arresting officers were required to inform people who were under arrest of their rights prior to being questioned by police.
The case of Salinas V. Texas, the United States Supreme Court decided that by simply staying silent, you are not invoking the fifth amendment or your Right to Remain Silent unless you have stated so.
Why is it Important to Remain Silent?
The Right to Remain Silent can be important for both the innocent AND the guilty. It is extremely important to be familiar with if you are being detained, arrested, and interrogated.
If you are being detained by the police, it is almost never a good idea to talk to anyone without an attorney present. Even if you are innocent and have nothing to hide, it is still not a good idea.
Because the police are not on your side. If they suspect you of a committing a crime, then it is their job to collect as much evidence as possible to build a case against you. It is the job of the police to get as much information that they can to share with prosecutors. This is how our criminal justice system works to build cases against defendants. Lengthy and complex prosecutions can take up lots of time and money. A way for police to avoid this is to get defendants to admit that they are guilty.
To Put it Simply…
Any information that they get you to reveal helps prosecutors build a stronger case against you. This saves them both time and money.
DON'T DO ALL THE WORK FOR THEM!
Does Remaining Silent Make Me Look Guilty?
Getting arrested can be an emotional moment in your life. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, it can be tempting to talk to police. Officers will be friendly with you in an effort to gather information to use against you. Even if you are innocent, your words can still be used to aid in your prosecution. Remember, when you speak to police you are providing a witness statement against yourself.
IT DOES NOT MAKE YOU GUILTY TO REMAIN SILENT
By choosing to remain silent, you are not admitting your guilt, but rather refusing to provide them with information that they could use to help aid them in your prosecution.
Let’s talk about misinformation, and how it could find its way into your court case.
When an accident or crime happens, it is the job of the police to collect as much evidence as they can against you. This includes all witness statements. Police are trained to report writing and in interrogation, but they are still human. It is possible that they could remember the wrong information, or write something down incorrectly. This happens more often than you think, and it can be very difficult to prove otherwise. Remember, if you refuse to speak to the police, they are less likely to report something that you said incorrectly.
How Do I Use My Right To Remain Silent?
YOU MUST VERBALLY SAY THAT YOU ARE INVOKING YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT
If you wish to invoke your right to remain silent, then simply staying silent may not work. Police know that they can still question you until you say something incriminating. Rather than just standing there silently, you can state to the officer, “I am asserting my right to remain silent.” This puts it clearly enough to leave little doubt that you know, and are exercising your legal rights.
An Officer Approaches…
If you are being approached and questioned by a police officer, the only question you should ask the officer is “Am I free to leave?”
If the officer answers yes… then you are free to walk away from the officer, and the conversation.
If the officer answers no… then he has to decide if he has enough evidence to arrest you. He may then ask you more questions. Keep in mind that the officer is asking you questions to help establish evidence for your arrest. DON'T HELP THEM OUT!
Cooperate With Police Physically not Verbally
When dealing with police, it is important to make sure that you are cooperating with them physically but not verbally. Do not run from police, or give them a reason to use force on you. You should always be physically cooperative. Even though you are cooperating physically, you do not have to assist in the investigation of yourself, so you must still exercise your Right to Remain Silent.
The Right to Remain Silent is Crucial to Your Defense
If you do have the misfortune of dealing with police, or getting arrested, it is important to know your rights. By knowing your rights and exercising them, you are giving yourself the best chance at acquittal. It also doesn’t hurt to have a great defense attorney, and if you find yourself in trouble you will also need a great bail bondsman, call A Easy Way Out Bail Bonds for Las Vegas and Henderson Bail Bonds.
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