One of the most vital steps you can take in a criminal proceeding is invoking your right to remain silent. Doing so allows you to keep quiet when officials question you and protects you from making self-incriminating statements. Still, you might not be sure when to remain silent and when to talk. A lawyer can help you through this difficult and confusing time.
What Is the Right to Remain Silent?
The right to remain silent is a well-known protection in the criminal justice system. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right. It ensures that those suspected of crimes are safeguarded from giving testimony that could incriminate them.
During police questioning, individuals can invoke the right to remain silent and refuse to provide statements to officials. The protection gives people the assurance that they cannot be coerced into providing evidence against themselves.
Why Is Exercising Your Right to Remain Silent Important?
Invoking your right to remain silent is imperative if facing any criminal accusation. Law enforcement officials and prosecutors can use everything you say – even if it seems innocuous – to build a case against you. Authorities might twist your words to fit their narrative and obtain the evidence they seek.
Therefore, it is crucial to request an attorney’s presence for all dealings with the police. A lawyer can protect you from unknowingly making self-incriminating statements, preventing the prosecution from getting more “evidence” against you. By exercising your right to remain silent and consulting with an attorney, you increase your chances of pursuing a favorable outcome in your case and potentially avoiding a conviction.
In a situation where you’ve been accused of wrongdoing, it’s natural to want to tell your side of the story. However, avoid the inclination. Silence is almost always the best course of action.
Understanding the Miranda Warning
The right to remain silent applies in all interactions with law enforcement officials. This includes routine traffic stops, detainments, and arrests.
Police must read you what is referred to as the Miranda warning if they have arrested and plan to interrogate you. One of the provisions in the warning is a reminder of your right to remain silent. However, officials don't need to read the warning during a detention or stop. Thus, it’s important for you to keep in mind that you can refuse to answer questions and invoke your right even though you haven’t been reminded of it.
Some wonder whether an officer’s failure to read the Miranda warning will lead to a case dismissal. The answer is that it depends. If officials don’t inform you of your rights after an arrest and question you, anything you say during the interrogation may be deemed inadmissible in court. The prosecutor's arguments might be weakened by the loss of some of your statements. If they have other evidence to use against you, they will still move forward with your case.
Knowing When to Remain Silent and When to Talk
Being involved in a criminal matter can be challenging, and you might not be sure when you should speak with the police or keep quiet. In some cases, officials might use various tactics to get you to talk to them. They might say they are only trying to help you or understand that good people can accidentally get mixed up in bad situations. Although you might want to be cooperative, answering questions isn’t a good idea.
If law enforcement officials want to talk to you about an alleged offense, seek legal advice as soon as possible. Having a lawyer present can be highly beneficial and help protect against self-incrimination. Your attorney can let you know when to say something to the police or when to keep quiet. With their guidance, you can be more confident handling certain aspects of your case.
Asserting Your Right to Remain Silent
You do not have to answer any questions law enforcement officials ask. But to invoke your right to remain silent, you must verbally assert your intention. In other words, you must tell authorities that you will not provide statements. Keeping quiet without actually saying that you are exercising your rights does not count. In fact, non-verbal behavior could be incriminating on its own.
Once you tell officers that you are staying silent and requesting to have a lawyer present, they should stop the interrogation.
Call an Attorney Today
Understanding the right to remain silent is critical to ensuring that you are protected during interactions with law enforcement officials. If you have been stopped for questioning or arrested on suspicion of a crime, let the officers know you are keeping quiet and would like to speak to a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney can help navigate the justice system and safeguard your constitutional rights.Schedule a consultation with one of our Boston lawyers at Brad Bailey Law by contacting us at (617) 500-0252.