The “Right to Remain Silent” is a Constitutional privilege that protects people from being compelled to give testimony that could incriminate them.

In other words, it helps a person avoid making self-incriminating statements that can later be used against him. When a person is placed under arrest by a police officer, the person is read his “Miranda Rights.”

What are Miranda Rights?

Pursuant to the U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona, whenever a person is taken into custody and questioned, he must be affirmatively informed of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incriminating statement. In that regard, police are required to read the suspect “Miranda Rights,” which include:

  • You have the right to remain silent;
  • Anything that you say can and will be used against you in a court of law;
  • You have the right to an attorney;
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.

How Do I Invoke My Right to Remain Silent?

Any person who wishes to invoke his right to remain silent should make clear that he is invoking his Constitutional privilege against self-incrimination. Saying something along the lines of, “I invoke my right to remain silent and I want to see my lawyer” before you are given your Miranda rights should suffice.

Notwithstanding, the ACLU advises people that in some states, if police ask you to identify yourself, you must at least give your name.

Can I Invoke My Right by Remaining Silent?

No. Because silence is ambiguous, an affirmative, unambiguous statement is required that clearly demonstrates you are using your right.

What Else Can I Say to Invoke My Right to Remain Silent?

You want to be clear that you are invoking your right to remain silent. Mentioning any of the following can clearly indicate that you are invoking your Constitutional privilege.

  • I Invoke my Mirada right to remain silent;
  • I’m exercising my right to remain silent;
  • I will remain silent;
  • I only want to speak with my attorney; or
  • I want to speak with my attorney first.

There are no specific words that trigger your right; however, the standard is that an invocation is sufficient so long as a “reasonable police officer, in the circumstances, would understand the statement to be a request for an attorney.”

When Can I Invoke My Right?

A person can invoke the right to remain silent during police interviews/interrogations as well as during trial.

What Happens When You Invoke Your Right?

Police and attorneys must stop all questioning as soon as you invoke your right to silence. Your right to silence is not specific to the person who happens to be interrogating you. In this way, police cannot simply send in a new police officer to question you, as your right to silence remains regardless of who questions you so long as you clearly invoked your right.

If police continue to question, they have violated your Miranda rights and subsequent statements made as a result of the unlawful questioning cannot be used against you in a court of law.

Can My Silence be Construed as Guilt?

If your case goes to trial, a jury is given specific instructions against construing your invocation of your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination as an admission of guilt.

Nevertheless, it is not uncommon for jury members to assume a person is guilty of a crime because he decided to invoke his right to remain silent, even though the jury member is specifically told not to take that into consideration during deliberations.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been questioned by the police you should speak with a criminal lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights and the complicated legal system. A criminal defense attorney can help you identify exactly what to say and what not to say.