Miranda Right to Remain Silent
Why is the Right to Remain Silent So Important
This article only discusses 5th amendment considerations. It contains no analysis of 6th amendment.
If taken into custody, it is important to exercise your Miranda right to remain silent. This requires you to remain vigilant and not talk about your case at all with anybody. This means you do not talk about your case with law enforcement officials. If arrested, do not talk about your case with other inmates. And although you may need emotional support, do not talk about your case with relatives.
But why is remaining silent so important? There are a few reasons. These reasons will be discussed below.
Police Understand Miranda Rights Better than You Do.
First, Police understand the law. They are trained. Your 5th Amendment Miranda Rights protects your right to remain silent. This is true because anything you say might be used against you in court. But if you remain silent, you do not run this risk.
Police understand ways around your Miranda Rights. Miranda protects you against the coercive effects found in jail house interrogations. But this right is only available under certain conditions. Simply put, Miranda protects you against questioning by police while in custody.
Police Know Miranda Rights Only Apply to Custodial Police Questioning
How do police get around Miranda? Well, Police know Miranda rights only apply to police officers. They understand that Miranda Right do not apply to undercover police agents. Anything you say to an undercover police agent might be used against you. Thus, you should never talk about your case with anyone but your lawyer. If you talk about your case with anyone, you risk unknowingly talking to an undercover police agent.
Moreover, police officers know many inmates are willing to become informants. Your Miranda Right to silence does not protect against conversations with fellow inmates. So, anything you say to an inmate might be used against you.
So, remember, you must remain vigilant in your silence. You must not talk to anyone about your case or risk your words being used against you.
Police Will Go Around Your Rights by Questing You Out of Custody
Furthermore, the police understand that you must be in custody for Miranda rights to apply. Someone is in custody for the purposes of Miranda if a reasonable person in their place would not feel free to leave or end the police encounter.
But police are smart. They know how to avoid the custody rule. They do this by warning you that you have the right to leave at any time. Police will further inform you that this encounter is voluntary. They may also tell you that you do not have to talk to them.
These warnings are all done to void your Miranda Rights. If you are free to leave at any time, then you are not in custody. If you are not in custody, then your Miranda Right to silence does not apply. Thus, anything you say may be used against you in court.
So, this means you should never talk to police regardless of whether Miranda applies. Remember, police often ask you to voluntarily talk with them so they can gather evidence against you. Thus, if you avoid talking to them regardless of whether Miranda applies, they will be unable to use your words against you in court.
Prosecution Case Maybe Weak Without Your Confession
Second, it is important to remain silent because anything you say might be used against you in Court. Often the prosecution’s case is very weak. They may have very little evidence against you.But, when police question you, they may not tell you their case is weak.
Instead, they may lie to you. They may suggest their case is very strong. They may tell you “we just want to get your side of the story.” They may suggest “you know what you did was wrong, just get it off your chest.” In doing so, they hope that you give up your right to remain silent and confess your crimes.
A confession will strengthen the prosecution’s case. Even if the physical evidence is weak, your confession will damage your case. Even a false confession is damaging. So, it is important to remain silent, even when there is a lot of pressure on you to talk.
So, what is the moral of this story? Remain vigilant. Do not talk about your case with anyone. If police want to talk to you, inform them you will only talk to them with your lawyer present. If the police suggest that talking with them is voluntary and you can leave, then take their advice and leave. Be polite to the police. Be courteous to the prosecution. But do not waive your right to remain silent.
Read the case law here.
Learn more about your Miranda Rights here.