A person being interrogated by the police has very specific rights that are outlined in the Bill of Rights. The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides information about a person’s right to avoid self-incrimination.
One of the specific points in the Fifth Amendment is the right to remain silent. Police officers must inform you of this right when they read you the Miranda warning, but it’s up to you to invoke the right.
#1: You must invoke the right
Your right to remain silent isn’t automatic. Instead, you have to make it clear that you’re exercising your right to remain silent. To do this, you can make a statement regarding your decision. Some examples include:
- I choose to remain silent
- I invoke my Miranda rights
- I want to speak to an attorney
Simply being quiet isn’t a clear invocation of your rights. If you don’t clearly invoke the right to remain silent, the police officers can continue with their interrogation.
Waiving your Miranda rights means that you want to talk to the police. You don’t have to speak up to waive your right. As long as you’ve been read your Miranda rights and understand them, you can waive your rights by not invoking them. In some cases, you may be asked to sign a waiver of your rights, but this might not be in your best interests.
#2: Invocation is all inclusive
Once you invoke your right to remain silent, all questioning by police officers has to stop. They can’t call in a new shift or a different department to resume the questioning. You must be given time to speak to an attorney about your case.
#3: Protection from pressuring
Invoking your right to remain silent can take a lot of pressure off you. Sometimes, people who are being interrogated will feel fearful. This can lead to them making statements that aren’t factual.
Anyone facing criminal charges should ensure they learn their options for a defense strategy. One component of this might be violations of your rights. Discussing this matter with someone who’s familiar with cases similar to yours is beneficial.