Your Right to Remain Silent
Do I Have To Answer Questions from the Police?
No. The Fifth Amendment provides you with a privilege against self-incrimination. You cannot be compelled to be a witness against yourself. This means that you do not have to answer the questions of police if they tend to show your involvement in criminal activity. If you are being investigated, questioned or are under arrest, you should request a lawyer and otherwise keep quiet.
Is The Right To Remain Silent Automatic?
If you are under arrest, you should have been read your Miranda rights, informing you that you have the right to remain silent, among other rights. If you have not been arrested but are in police or federal custody and are not free to leave, you should also have been read your Miranda rights.
If you choose to remain silent, your silence cannot be used against you. If you do not choose to remain silent, anything you say may be used against you.
Strange as it sounds, you must invoke your right to remain silent by telling the police that you are choosing to remain silent. You must speak in order to assert your right to remain silent.
Expert Tip: If a person is both (1) in custody, and (2) interrogated by law enforcement, then any answers to police questions given by that person, without prior administration of the Miranda warnings, are inadmissible at trial. Often, particularly in the case of child pornography investigations, law enforcement officers interview suspects while executing a search warrant of the suspect’s home without advising that suspect of the Miranda warnings. If the suspect gives incriminating answers to law enforcement questions, the issue becomes whether the suspect was “in custody.” If the circumstances of the police interview were coercive, an experienced criminal defense attorney can argue that the suspect was in custody, and that the statements he or she made should be excluded from the trial as violations of Miranda. See United States v. Hashime, 734 F.3d. 278 (4 th Cir. 2013) (child pornography convictions reversed where statements made by the defendant during a search of his residence were obtained in violation of Miranda).
How Far Does The Privilege Against Self-Incrimination Go?
A common trap used by police during a traffic stop is asking the driver if you know why you were pulled over. Answering the officer’s question will likely incriminate you. “Yes officer, I was speeding,” or “I didn’t come to a complete stop at that sign” are admissions of guilt that can be used against you.
Important: If you are innocent, if you have been falsely accused, or even if you did commit the offense you are charged with, asserting your right to remain silent followed by your right to talk to an attorney is the best strategy to take to protect your future.
Contact Roberts Law Group, PLLC
Even if you think it’s a good idea to waive your Miranda rights and tell the police everything you know, it’s a better idea to talk to an attorney first. Federal defense attorney Patrick Roberts is available at 877-880-5753. You may also contact Patrick Roberts by email. Roberts Law Group, PLLC is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.