The right to remain silent is a legal and constitutional right that all individuals in the United States have while they are under police questioning. What this means is, if a person has been arrested, they do not have to answer any questions by the police or law enforcement. The right to remain silent stems from the Fifth Amendment.
The Fifth Amendment in the Bill of Rights is an important part of the United States Constitution because it protects certain individual liberties by restricting federal governmental power. The Fifth Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination prohibit American law enforcement from compelling people to speak during criminal investigations.
The clause states in part that no person shall be compelled in a criminal case to be a witness against themself. This means that a person should not be forced to provide evidence that could incriminate oneself.
This clause has existed since 1791 but was not initially used in a way similar to how it exists today.
In Miranda v. Arizona, the Supreme Court held that any statement made in a custodial interrogation cannot be used against a suspect unless the police informed the suspect of their right against self incrimination.
Miranda warnings have to be given whenever a suspect is interrogated while under arrest. The Miranda case is the origin of the requirement that law enforcement officers must inform people of their “Miranda rights” as part of their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The Miranda case changed how interrogations are conducted.
Miranda warnings are generally provided to suspects while they are being arrested, taken into custody, while they are being moved from one location to another, or otherwise deprived of their freedom of action.
Miranda warnings can be given at any time during an interrogation. However, if the suspect indicates that they would like to remain silent or speak with a representative of their choice (typically a lawyer), then law enforcement can no longer question a person about the crime they were arrested for.
Conversely, under Miranda , if a person indicates that they want to waive their right to remain silent, law enforcement can continue questioning until and unless the person clearly requests an attorney.
Miranda applies whether or not it has already been determined that the person is a suspect. By requiring Miranda warnings to be read whenever a person is arrested, the Court intended to prevent police from using coercive tactics to force confessions from suspects in custody.
Miranda also allows criminal defendants to suppress any evidence that was obtained as a result of interrogation by law enforcement officers who failed or n+eglected to provide Miranda warnings.
How Do I Use My Right to Remain Silent?
Your legal right to remain silent can protect you from making a mistake that could cost you everything; including your freedom and reputation.
When someone is in custody being interrogated, the police will typically ask questions about other criminal activity that a person may be a suspect in. Alternatively, the police will try to get information about other people who may have been involved in the same crime or other crimes.
When a suspect in custody invokes their right under Miranda to consult with, or have an attorney present during questioning, the police must cease the interrogation until the suspect’s lawyer is present unless the suspect initiates on their own communication or conversations with the police.
You can ask for a lawyer at any time, even if an officer has told you that you do not need one. The request for counsel is a privilege under the Fifth Amendment as it pertains to the rights under Miranda.
An example of a conversation invoking your rights under Miranda would be:
Say, “Officer, I’m going to remain silent.”
“I want to see a lawyer.”
Be consistent when repeating this statement and do not add any other comments that may sound suspicious or incriminating.
In sum, people should be aware of their right to remain silent when questioned by the police, because it protects them against self incrimination under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
This is a legal right that anyone can ask to exercise, whether or not the police have stated that they are suspected of a crime.
Obviously, someone should not say anything incriminating, even if it is true. People should also know their right to request a lawyer while being questioned by the police and should do so because anything they say afterward could be used against them in a trial even if an attorney wasn’t present.
Do The Police Have To Inform Me Of My Rights?
The police are only obligated to give the Miranda warning when someone is arrested and being questioned. This means that the police are not obligated to notify you of your rights when they stop you on the street or ask you questions during a routine investigation.
However, even if you are not arrested, it is always a good idea to not divulge potentially incriminating evidence. You can always remain silent until you speak with an attorney, because anything you say can be used against you in court.
For example, Miranda and the Fifth Amendment applies to interrogations while in custody; however, routine questioning of a motorist by the police who are detained in a traffic stop is not considered a custodial interrogation under Miranda.
So, even if you are not arrested, communications or exchanges between you and the police can still be used against you if charges are brought against you at a later time. The police are required to read you your Miranda Rights if they are questioning you about a crime however.
Can I Use The Right To Remain Silent Even If I Am Not A Citizen?
The right to remain silent is a constitutional right that every U.S. citizen or person in the United States has. The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution provides, “No person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
This means that no one can be compelled by law enforcement officers or other government officials (i.e., judges and prosecutors) into giving self-incriminating testimony (making statements that could lead to a conviction).
However, this does not only apply to citizens of the U.S.; it also applies to legal and illegal immigrants alike. This is because it is what ensures their rights as human beings under the “equal protection clause” found in the 14th Amendment.
When dealing with the police and other government officials, non-citizens have been held to the same standards as those of citizens under the Fifth Amendment.
For example, if a person is taken into custody by an officer for investigation purposes only (i.e., not yet arrested), that person has the right to state that they do not want to answer any questions without a lawyer present even though they are not being charged at the current time.
Do I Need A Lawyer for Help with Fifth Amendment Rights?
Making mistakes while talking to law enforcement officials can have serious consequences. An attorney can help you navigate these difficult situations, protect your rights, and provide representation if necessary.
If you have been arrested or believe that your rights may have been violated under the Fifth Amendment then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately so they can advocate for you.