Everyone has heard the phrase, “You have the right to remain silent.” It’s often followed by, “Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.” Most of us have heard these words in movies or on TV, and some have heard them in real life. These words are part of what is referred to as the Miranda warning. While most people are familiar with it, many of them don’t know how important it is to invoke their right to remain silent after they have been taken into custody.
The right to remain silent is protected by the U.S. Constitution. In a lot of cases, invoking this right can help you to fight your charges and avoid a conviction. If you have been arrested for any criminal offense, you should speak to a qualified attorney as soon as possible. This person will make sure you understand your rights so you don’t incriminate yourself.
The importance of Your Right to Remain Silent
The Fifth Amendment protects American citizens from incriminating themselves both during and after an arrest. In Miranda vs. Arizona, the Supreme Court ruled that any arrested person can’t be questioned by the police until they’re aware of their right to remain silent. Officers are legally required to read your Miranda rights when you’re taken into custody. This includes informing you of the following:
- Your right to remain silent.
- Your right to consult with an attorney.
- Your right to have your attorney present during a police interrogation.
If a police officer doesn’t read your Miranda rights, any statements you make during an interrogation can’t be used as admissible evidence in your case.
When Police Officers are Required to Read Your Miranda Rights
According to Federal Law, police officers are legally required to give you a Miranda warning when they take you into custody and ask you questions during an interrogation. You’re considered to be “in custody” when you’re not free to leave. If you’re not in custody, the office isn’t required to read your Miranda rights. A lot of people don’t understand when they’re actually in police custody, which is why they may feel pressured to answer questions being asked by officers. That’s why you should ask the officer if you’re free to leave.
When You Should Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent
In most cases, it’s in your best interests to cooperate with law enforcement. But, there’s a difference between cooperation and incrimination. The police may force you to make incriminating statements, which is why you need to know when to invoke your right to remain silent.
If the police stop you, keeping quiet and refusing to answer the officer’s questions can look suspicious. It may be best to answer any questions unless it can be used as incriminating evidence. But if an officer arrests you and takes you into custody, you should exercise your right to remain silent. You also want to use your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination by not answering any questions until your lawyer is present.
Why You Should Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent
If you want to invoke your right to remain silent, you must explicitly say that you’re asserting your Fifth Amendment right. This was made clear in Salinas vs. Texas, when the Supreme Court allowed the prosecution to use the defendant’s silence as evidence of their guilt. If you don’t explicitly say that you’re invoking your right against self-incrimination, your silence during a police interrogation can be used as admissible evidence of your guilt.
How to Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent
If you have been arrested for a crime in the State of Texas, you should explicitly say that you want to exercise your right to remain silent (which is the right way to avoid self-incrimination). After the Salinas vs. Texas case, the importance of explicitly invoking this right can’t be overstated.
If you plan to “plead the Fifth” by refusing to answer questions, you must inform the police. Otherwise, the police will continue with their questioning and use your silence as evidence that you are either guilty or have something to hide. Once you explicitly invoke your right to remain silent, the police can’t use your refusal to answer questions as evidence of your guilt.
If the police pressured you into making an incriminating statement or used any other illegal tactics, you should speak to a qualified attorney as soon as possible because he or she can make sure it isn’t used as admissible evidence.
If you’re looking for a criminal defense attorney in Corpus Christi to help you with your case, be sure to reach out to Gale Law Group.