Some Important Information About The Constitutional Right To Remain Silent
The wording used when an individual is being ‘Mirandized’ is quite plain and straightforward:
“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 provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? With these rights in mind, do you wish to speak to me?”
“The right to remain silent,” is a very well-known statement, and even a person who has never been arrested has probably heard it on TV shows. However, as much as this statement is well-known to almost everyone, the constitutional rights that it represents are not well understood. Also, it is not enough for you to simply know that you have the right to remain silent. You must also understand how to exercise this right. Additionally, you need to understand what happens if you fail to exercise your right to remain silent properly.
Read on to gather some important information about your constitutional right to remain silent.
Invoking Your Right To Remain Silent
Generally, police officers are expected to read individuals their Miranda rights upon arrest. As long as a suspect understands their rights as explained by a police officer, any statements made in subsequent interrogation can be used as admissible evidence if the suspect failed to invoke their right to remain silent. As a suspect, you must affirmatively invoke your right to remain silent to ensure that anything you end up saying after an arrest is inadmissible in a court of law.
Practically speaking, if a police officer reads you your Miranda rights, they may continue interrogating you. After remaining silent for a while, the statements you make can still be used against you unless you affirmatively invoked your right to remain silent. Generally, keeping quiet and then continuing to speak after a while does not equal invoking your right to remain silent.
So, how does an individual invoke their right to remain silent? There is no one specific way of invoking this right. Nonetheless, it is advisable that you invoke your right to remain silent using clear statements such as:
- I invoke my Miranda right to remain silent
- I want to remain silent
- I only want to speak to my attorney
- I want to speak to my attorney first
After a person invokes their right to remain silent following an arrest, police officers are expected to stop questioning them.
Silence at Trial
The constitutional right to remain silent not only applies during police interrogations but also during trials. According to the Fifth Amendment, a suspect should not be compelled to be a witness against themselves in a criminal case. Generally, it is up to a defendant to decide whether or not to testify at trial. If a defendant chooses not to testify, a prosecutor is not allowed to call them (the defendant) as a witness. Also, a prosecutor may not comment about a defendant’s decision not to testify at trial.
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