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Right to Remain Silent

U.S. Supreme Court Rules Right to Remain Silent Must Be Affirmatively Invoked

A divided U.S. Supreme Court held that suspects must specifically invoke their Miranda right to remain silent during questioning to preserve it. The high court split 5-4 in Berghuis v. Thompkins, ruling that police could use admissions of a shooting suspect who refused to sign a paper acknowledging that he had been given a Miranda warning, but didn’t expressly state that he was invoking his right to remain silent. The 5 justices rejected arguments that use of the suspect’s statement violated his 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination, holding that absent evidence of coercive conditions, an ambiguous situation must be interpreted in favor of the police. Justice Sonia Sotomayer wrote for the dissent, saying that the decision misread precedent and requires suspects to actually speak in order to protect their right to remain silent.

The lesson to be learned is clear. If you are arrested, you should NEVER speak with the police. Otherwise, you run the risk of incriminating yourself. Instead, you should immediately decline to answer questions and request a lawyer. Once you have spoken to a qualified criminal defense lawyer, he or she should be able to give you good advice. When in doubt about giving a statement to police, always remember that the police want you to talk. That is the exact reason why you should do the opposite and request a lawyer.

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