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Invoking the right to remain silent

On Behalf of | May 23, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Under the United States Constitution, anyone accused of a crime has the right to remain silent. Not everyone knows their rights, resulting in the suspects incriminating themselves. Even those familiar with the Miranda rights and, in particular, the right to remain silent, might not fully understand how to claim them. Specifically, they might not realize they must invoke their right to remain silent.

Invoking the right to remain silent

Simply not saying anything is not equivalent to invoking the right to remain silent. Suppose someone refuses to talk to the police during an arrest and won’t answer questions during the interrogation period. In that case, the person has not yet explicitly invoked the right to remain silent. Therefore, the police may continue to question the suspect.

However, questioning could stop when the suspect declares their right to remain silent. Invoking the right to have an attorney present might also work in the suspect’s favor. A suspect could invoke the right to remain silent but start talking to the police later. Sometimes, the police may trick someone into speaking to them. An attorney might be better suited to deal with law enforcement officials.

Misconduct and other concerns

A criminal defense strategy could become challenging to carry out when a defendant provides the police with self-incriminating statements. Sometimes, the police may force someone to make incriminating statements through threats or other civil rights violations. Again, the police might get away with such misconduct without an attorney present during questioning.

Criminal convictions require the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Not incriminating oneself could make it harder for the prosecutor to prove guilt. If the evidence proves insufficient, a judge may even dismiss the charges.