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The importance of your right to remain silent

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “you have the right to remain silent.” It is usually recognized as the words spoken to someone who is being placed under arrest.

Even if you have not heard them spoken to you directly, the words may have become so familiar to you through hearing them in movies or on television shows that you might not recognize their importance.

The right to remain silent is one of the most powerful rights you have under federal law. Unfortunately, it is also one of the rights that is not asserted as much as it should be.

Miranda warnings

Along with other rights, such as the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent is part of Miranda warnings. These are warnings that a police officer must give to you if they are going to interrogate or arrest you.

Without being read these rights, anything you say to the police officers could potentially be inadmissible at trial. This often means they have no evidence against you and are forced to drop any criminal charges.

It is natural to become nervous when you are around police officers. Even if they read you Miranda warnings and you understand that you do not have to speak, you may speak out of nervousness anyway.

Alternatively, you might believe that if you just explain your side of the story to the police officers, the situation will be cleared up and they will let you go.

Your words can do more harm than good

Do not do this. There is a reason that you are told any statements you make can be used against you. Statements that sound innocent to you or that you believe are helping could actually be making you sound guilty.

Your nervousness might cause you to make statements you do not mean or cause statements to come out the wrong way.

However, staying silent is often not enough for officers to recognize that you are invoking your right to remain silent. You can invoke your rights by saying you will remain silent until you speak with your attorney.

Giving your name, address or date of birth is not waiving your rights. Give those if asked, but after that, remain silent.

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