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Invoking the Right to Remain Silent

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How Do I Invoke the Right to Remain Silent?

The best way to invoke your right to remain silent is to say “I will remain silent. I want to see a lawyer” shortly before the arrest (if you sense the arrest coming). If you are surprised by the arrest, say “I will remain silent. I want to see a lawyer.” You do not, and should not, wait for the police to give the Miranda Warning

Can I Say Anything Else To Trigger the Right?

There are a few variations:

  • I want an attorney
  • I claim my Miranda rights
  • I will not speak
  • I do not want to speak

Regarding how you claim your right, be sure that your statement is clear and affirmative, so that the police cannot (purposefully) misinterpret it. After that, remain silent. If you begin speaking anytime after invoking the right, you will have voluntarily forfeited the right.

Can I Invoke My Right To Remain Silent By Staying Silent?

No. The Supreme Court has ruled that you must give a clear and affirmative statement that you are using the right. Anything else is considered too vague.

Can I Stay Silent On Some Questions But Answer Others?

Unless you have a lawyer at your side, you should refrain from doing this. If you are answering questions and then fall silent on particular questions, the police might use that silence against you.

What If I’m Innocent?

If you are completely innocent, you should still reframe from speaking. The prosecuting lawyer will be skilled at turning any explanations or excuses you offer into guilty verdicts.

What If I’m Guilty?

Even if you are guilty, you should still remain silent. The prosecutor’s job is to make defendants serve the highest sentence possible. A defense attorney can help you decide if you should fight the charges at trial or make a plea bargain. Either way, you should have a defense lawyer to ensure that you get the lowest sentence possible rather than the highest one.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you have been questioned by the police you should speak with a criminal defense 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.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 05-07-2014 02:22 PM PDT

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