Firm Logo
856.888.9059

To Exercise Your Right to Be Silent, Speak Up

December 30, 2017

right-to-remain-silent

Thanks to television crime and legal shows, nearly everyone recognizes the phrase “you have the right to remain silent….” This right (along with the right to a lawyer during questioning) are known as the “Miranda rights,” after the 1966 Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona. Your Miranda rights apply any time the police question you while you are “in custody,” or are not free simply to walk away.

As a result of their familiarity with the Miranda warnings, many people assume that if they have the right to remain silent, they should exercise it by remaining silent. In any interaction with police, then, a person may decide not to say anything, no matter what police say to them.

However, simply not saying anything to police may not be enough to protect your right to remain silent. In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Berghuis v. Thompkins that a defendant who stayed quiet for three hours, then gave a statement, had not invoked his right to remain silent for that three hours. His statement could be used against him in court.

Even if you are not under arrest or have not been read your Miranda rights, you may need to speak up in order to invoke your right to remain silent. In Salinas v. Texas, the defendant, Salinas, had refused to answer a police officer’s question before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights. The Supreme Court held that the prosecutor could use this silence against Salinas in court, because even though Salinas had a right to remain silent, he had not told police that he wanted to invoke that right.

What should you say to invoke your right to remain silent? The Supreme Court didn’t give specific words to say, but they did say that a person has to make it clear that they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Criminal laws are complex. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you understand the charges you face and build a strong argument in your favor. To learn more, contact New Jersey criminal defense attorney Michele Finizio today by calling 856-888-9059.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney/client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

Reviews Matter

“First class representation. Michele was my son’s attorney after he made a slight but bad decision that hurt no one, but one that potentially could have a caused a lifetime of employment problems in the future, despite having a four year college degree. First of all Michele was very proactive in protecting his rights. Rights we were not even aware of. She provided quick and reliable answers to our questions. Before we met with her our anxiety and worry was insatiable. The peace we felt after our first consultation alleviated all that and we knew we picked the right attorney. Her excellent negotiation skills resulted in a settling his case quickly and without conviction.

We owe a debt of gratitude for her service. I was shocked at how much she was able to do for my son. She is a solid lawyer who is honest and works to insure the best possible outcome for her client is achieved.”
- Former Client

“Michele was very prompt when getting back to me when I called regarding legal counsel. Michele kept me informed and in the loop while awaiting trial. Very professional qualities and I highly recommend Michele and will continue to seek her legal expertise in the future. Thanks.”
- Former Client

“I could not had ask for a better attorney. Michele Finizio treated my case and the case of those I’ve recommended as if we were part of her family. She gave it all she had, made her voice and case be heard in court and made it count, and we had the best possible outcome, thanks to her experience and expertise. Thank you very much for an outstanding job.”
- D.A.

"Michele is an outstanding, no “beating around the bush” lawyer. She has done a remarkable job as a lawyer for me. Before Michele, I did not get along with Criminal Lawyers – she comes HIGHLY recommended by me to anyone who needs a Criminal Lawyer."
- C.O.
View All Client Reviews