Your Right to Remain Silent

The Critical Significance of Silence with Police

“The Right to Remain Silent”

What does it Mean, and Why it is Such Crucial Advice.

“You Have the Right to Remain Silent” ...You hear it all the time when you see an arrest on TV or in a Movie “You have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you”. You might have heard of this referred to as the police “reading a suspect their rights” or more accurately, “Miranda Rights”.

Miranda rights simply inform the suspect that they have the right to remain silent, and the right to an attorney. They are based on your 5th amendment and 6th amendment rights,

Not only will the things you say almost certainly be


But you will also likely be providing the


That the prosecution has.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

What Does The 5th Amendment Mean to Someone Accused of a Crime?

The most common use of the 5th amendment is that first sentence, usually simplified to your right against “self-incrimination”. This means that you do not have to answer questions that would help the case against you. A defendant might plead the fifth instead of agreeing that they were present at a certain time and place. For the purposes of “The Right to Remain Silent” the fifth amendment simply grants you the right to NOT speak.

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

What Does The 6th Amendment Mean to Someone Accused of a Crime?

The sixth amendment can have a fairly wide range of uses for someone who is facing a criminal charge. One very practical example is the right for your defense lawyer to cross-examine a witness who is testifying against you. The sixth amendment is also where the right to have an attorney comes from, as well as the guiding principles behind jury selection.

the sixth amendment and criminal defense

Where Does the name “Miranda Rights” Come From?

The name comes from a Supreme Court case, where a bank worker, Ernesto Miranda was charged with kidnapping, rape and robbery after an excessively long police interview. Supreme Court Justices determined that the statements Miranda made could not be used against him because he was not informed of his constitutional right to NOT speak with the police, or to have a lawyer present if he chose to speak with the police.

Why Silence is Golden When Being Questioned By Police

Police are trained to interrogate suspects and get them to confess. They may use a variety of tactics, including:

  • Lying to you: Police may tell you that they have evidence against you, even if they don't, or that they have other suspects who have confessed to the crime.
  • Threatening you: Police may threaten to charge you with additional crimes, or to make your life difficult if you don't cooperate.
  • Making promises: Police may promise you leniency or a reduced sentence if you confess. Anything you say can be used against you in court.

Even if you are innocent, anything you say to the police can be used as evidence against you at trial. This is why it is important to exercise your right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to have an attorney present during any questioning by the police. If you are unable to afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you by the court. It is important to speak to an attorney before answering any questions from the police.

Do Yourself (and your criminal defense lawyer) a Favor, Do NOT Talk to the Police if you are under arrest or investigation.

Nothing good comes from talking to the police. If you are a person of interest, you will not talk yourself out of it. If the police suspect you of a crime, they are ONLY talking to you to advance that theory. So when they say “anything you say can and will be used against you” they really mean it. I can not tell you how many times I have clients and the toughest testimony against them is their own words. The sixth amendment is a little more complicated and is addressing things typically handled by an attorney. But as for the fifth, it just couldn’t be simpler. Do NOT speak to police if you are under investigation or being suspected of a crime. Call The Law Office of Mark Kelly first.

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