When and How to Invoke Your Right to Silence

Below are excerpts from nolo.com’s article When and How to Invoke Your Right to Silence:

On Monday, June 17, 2013, in a closely-contested decision, the United States Supreme Court held that prosecutors can in fact point to an out-of-custody suspect’s silence in response to police questioning as evidence of guilt. (Salinas v. Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2174 (2013).) The only way to prevent the government from introducing evidence at trial of the suspect’s silence is to explicitly invoke the right to say nothing. In other words, without being warned by the police or advised by a lawyer, and without even the benefit of the familiar Miranda warnings (which might trigger a “I want to invoke my right to be silent!”), the interviewee must apparently say words to the effect of, “I’m not saying anything because I invoke my right to silence.

What to Say to Invoke the Right to Silence

The new Supreme Court decision raises weighty questions, such as whether it’s reasonable to place the onus of asserting constitutional rights on everyday people, most of whom have never cracked the spine of a criminal procedure or constitutional law book. The more practical question is what, exactly, an out-of-custody person must say to inquisitive police officers in order to claim the right to silence. To be safe, they should make clear that they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right to silence and have nothing further to say. That way their subsequent failure to answer any questions cannot be mentioned at trial.

Good stuff to know!  You can read the full article here.


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