“You have the right to remain silent.” We’ve all heard these words spoken on countless television shows and in movies. But these words aren’t simply used for dramatic effect. You do have a right to remain silent when you’re placed under arrest. However, you actually have to speak up before you can stop talking.
You must invoke your right to remain silent
When you’re placed under arrest, the police are required to inform you of your Miranda rights. The right to remain silent and the right to an attorney are the two parts of the Miranda warning. You might think that simply not speaking at this point would be enough to exercise your right to remain silent. However, you must invoke this right explicitly.
You can outright tell the police, “I’m invoking my Miranda right to remain silent.” You may also inform them that you don’t intend to speak to them until you’ve spoken with an attorney.
It’s important to be clear. Anything that is less than an explicit statement to invoke your right will not be enough. For example, if you say, “I’m not sure I should talk to you. I think maybe I should speak with a lawyer,” you’ve left enough wiggle room for the police to continue questioning you.
You may assert your right at any time
It’s important to remember that you can invoke your right to remain silent at any point. Perhaps you chatted with the police on your way to booking. Maybe you started to answer questions and then had second thoughts. Once you assert your right, clearly and explicitly, police questioning must come to an end.
In general, it’s best to always speak with an attorney before you speak with the police, even if you’re completely innocent of the charges filed against you. The right to avoid incriminating yourself is one of the most powerful tools you have. Make sure you understand how best to use it along with the strong support you receive from the attorneys of Kammen & Moudy.