Nov 11 2013

You No Longer Have the Right to Remain Silent

(2 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Fifth Amendment

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that refusing to talk to the police can be held against you in a court of law, contrary to the Fifth Amendment.

(I)n a 5-4 ruling on Salinas v. Texas in which the conservative members of the Court and Anthony Kennedy determined that if you remain silent before police read your Miranda rights, that silence can and will be held against you. Here’s what that means.

Basically, if you’re ever in any trouble with police (no, we don’t condone breaking laws) and want to keep your mouth shut, you will need to announce that you’re invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut. “Petitioner’s Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question,” reads the opinion from Justice Samuel Alito (pdf), which Justice Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts backed. Justices Thomas and Scalia had a concurring opinion while the remaining four Supremes dissented.

Law Professor Jonathan Turley explains the impact of the ruling

The case began on the morning of December 18, 1992 when two brothers were shot and killed in their Houston home. A neighbor told police that someone fled in a dark-colored car. Police recovered six shotgun shell casings at the scene. Police inteviewed Salinas who was a guest at a party that the victims hosted the night before they were killed. He owned a dark blue car. While this was a noncustodial interview and Salinas answered questions by the police, he stopped answering when a police officer asked whether his shotgun “would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder.” The record states that, rather than answering “petitioner ‘[l]ooked down at the floor, shuffled his feet, bit his bottom lip, cl[e]nched hishands in his lap, [and] began to tighten up.'” Notably, there was insufficient evidence to charge him with the crime. However, a statement later by another man (who said that Salinas admitted to the killings) led to the charge.

Salinas did not testify at trial, so prosecutors used his silence against him. [..]

Of course, now the police need only to ask questions before putting some into custody to use their silence against them. What is particularly troublesome is how subjective this evidence is. To use the silence and demeanor of a suspect on this question is highly prejudicial and equally unreliable. Yet, now the refusal to answer questions (which is your right) can now be used against you. You can imagine how this new rule can be used any time someone wants to speak with a lawyer or a family member. Police can now recount how they did not assist them or volunteer information.

Citizens will now be able to have protected silence only after being placed in custody. Of course you had that right before that point, but silence would now be incriminating. That gives police every incentive to delay custody – an incentive that already exists due to other rules like Miranda.

An law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police.

An Idaho attorney addresses the issue of speaking to the police when you have been accused of a crime. A criminal defense lawyer’s perspective on the pitfalls of submitting to an interrogation. Attorney Craig Atkinson addresses the many issues surrounding the legal system, and how due the nature of the adversarial justice system, a defendant’s best bet is to keep quiet.

Even police officers agree you shouldn’t talk to them.

So if the police or law enforcement want to talk to you what should you do. According to the article in The Atlantic Wire by Alexander Abad-Santos:

Basically, if you’re ever in any trouble with police… and want to keep your mouth shut, you will need to announce that you’re invoking your Fifth Amendment right instead of, you know, just keeping your mouth shut.

Invoke your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent then shut up.  

1 comment

  1. TMC

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