Tips On Exercising Constitutional Right To Remain Silent

When law enforcement pulls you over for a speeding ticket, suspicion of DUI, or even more serious matters like suspicion of automobile theft, it can be a stressful event. If you are stopped for reasons outside of a simple moving violation and placed in custody, it is imperative to remember that you have rights that you may exercise. When you are arrested by a police officer, law enforcement is required to advise you of your Miranda Rights.  What exactly is the “Miranda Warning” or “Miranda Rights” you may ask?  Whenever a person is miranda rightsarrested, before being questioned he or she must be told of his or her constitutional Fifth Amendment right not to make any self-incriminating statements. As a result of the landmark case Miranda v Arizona, anyone in police custody must be told four things before being questioned:

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

The question then becomes, how do you exercise your Miranda rights after being advised of them by a police officer? In light of the 2013 Salinas v Texas ruling by United States Supreme Court, it is of paramount importance to be aware that you must act affirmatively in order to employ your rights. That is, you are required to take the affirmative step of telling the officer that you wish to remain silent or that you want a lawyer before saying anything else. Simply saying to the officer “do I need a lawyer” or “should I get a lawyer” is not sufficient. You must affirmatively say that you do not want to answer questions or that you want a lawyer in order to exercise your rights.

In addition, per Silanas v Teaxas, simply keeping quiet and not responding to the officer may no longer be deemed a sufficient method by which to exercise your right to remain silent. By keeping quiet and not affirmatively asserting your Miranda Rights, you may not have exercised your right to remain silent, and the officer can continue to talk to you, ask questions, or make statements in an effort to get you to reply in an inculpatory fashion —  that is, to say something that would amount to a confession or otherwise make you appear guilty.

Always remember these tips if placed in custody by a law enforcement officer:

  • If you’re arrested, you aren’t going to talk your way out of it
  • Asserting your rights does not imply guilt, it implies wise judgment
  • Make certain you have made it clear you wish to assert your right to remain silent and to an attorney

If you have any questions regarding your right to remain silent or any other issue as it relates to your constitutional rights under the law, contact our attorney, Donna Wagner, and schedule a consultation.

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