The Right to Remain Silent… How do you Exercise this Right?

Remaining Silent

The Right to Remain Silent… How do you Exercise this Right?

Getting stopped by the police, whether it is for a speeding ticket, suspicion of DUI, or even more serious matters, is a stressful event. Although such situations can be unnerving, it is important to remember that you have rights that you may exercise. When you are taken into custody (i.e.: arrested) by law enforcement, law enforcement is required to advise you of your Miranda rights. The question then becomes, how do you exercise your Miranda rights after being advised of them by a police officer?

In light of recent rulings from the United States Supreme Court, it is of paramount importance to be aware that you must act affirmatively in order to employ your rights. That is, you are required to take the affirmative step of telling the officer that you wish to remain silent or that you want a lawyer before saying anything else. Simply saying to the officer “do I need a lawyer” or “should I get a lawyer” is not sufficient. You must affirmatively say that you do not want to answer questions or that you want a lawyer in order to exercise your rights.

Ironically, simply keeping quiet and not responding to the officer may no longer be deemed a sufficient method by which to exercise your right to remain silent. By keeping quiet and not affirmatively asserting your Miranda rights, you may not have exercised your right to remain silent, and the officer can continue to talk to you, ask questions, or make statements in an effort to get you to reply in an inculpatory fashion (i.e.: say something that would amount to a confession or otherwise make you appear guilty).

Even if you agree to waive your Miranda rights and talk to the police, you still have the right to stop the questioning at any time. Again, this must be done affirmatively as stated above and not by simply “clamming up.”

Always remember two things:

  1. if you’re arrested, you aren’t going to talk your way out of it; and
  2. asserting your rights does not imply guilt, it implies wise judgment.

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