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The Right To Remain Silent

June 20, 2017 Tags:

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” We’ve all heard this time and time again in television or movies, but the right to silence is a legitimate right afforded to you. Under the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights, citizens of the United States have a right against self-incrimination, which provides you the right to remain silent. This right reaches during an arrest and even during traffic stops performed by police, however there are several things to keep in mind before choosing to remain silent.

What Is The Miranda Warning?

In 1966, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that police officers were mandated to read any detained or arrested individual their right to remain silent before they are questioned. Under the Miranda Warning (also known as Miranda Right) police officers must inform anyone in their custody of four rights allotted as a result of the case of Miranda v. Arizona. A Miranda Warning states:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law
  • You have the right to an attorney
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

If a police officer fails to read the Miranda warning to a detained or arrested person, any statement, information or confession given is considered involuntary and as a result cannot be used against the suspect. Any evidence found as a result of that information will likely be thrown out as well. It further provides that a suspect’s silence cannot be used against them as evidence of guilt.

Silence During A Traffic Stop 

The Right To Remain SilentThe law does not require police officers to “mirandize” an individual that is not technically in custody. Police will often attempt to question suspects who are not in custody by informing them that they are not under arrest and are free to leave. Furthermore, individuals pulled over during a traffic stop are not detained, therefore officers are not required to read Miranda rights during a mere traffic stop investigation.

During a routine traffic stop, an officer will likely ask questions such as where are you going or where are you coming from after requesting identification, vehicle registration and proof of insurance in an attempt to further investigate. However, you still have the right to remain silent during questioning of a traffic stop if you so choose. Your Fifth Amendment right allows you to refrain from answering these questions in order to avoid self-incrimination. It is important to note that while you are not required to speak, you are still required to present the documents requested by an officer.

Remaining silent during simple traffic stop questioning, however, is more often than not seen as indication of guilt. Choosing not to speak can easily be confused with choosing not to cooperate, which can make many situations worse by creating reasonable suspicion.

Invoking Your Right To Remain Silent 

Criminal Defense Attorney Las VegasIn order to avoid creating suspicion, or in any situation in which you would like to invoke your right to remain silent, it is crucial that you clearly state your desire to invoke your Fifth Amendment right. Simply remaining silent will not uphold your right to avoid self-incrimination. You must loudly and clearly state that you are invoking your Miranda rights and that you are choosing to not speak until your attorney is present.

In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled under Salinas v. Texas that prosecutors, under appropriate circumstances, can allude to a suspect’s silence as evidence of guilt. The only way to benefit from the right to remain silent and avoid self-incrimination is to clearly state your desire to invoke your right to be silent.

For any questions regarding your Miranda rights or if you believe you rights have been violated, contact CEGA Criminal Law, Inc. today at 702-358-1138.

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