Supreme Court Changes How You Use Your Right to Remain Silent

You probably understand that you have the right to remain silent if you are under arrest, and you may assume that you have this right outside of police custody too. You may have been right a few months ago, but now a new Supreme Court ruling has influenced your constitutional rights.

On June 17, 2013, the Supreme Court made a ruling on a murder case. What had happened is that police were interviewing a suspect while he was outside of police custody. This means that he was not being officially interrogated, detained, or arrested. This also means he had not heard any Miranda rights. As he was cooperating with the police, an officer asked the suspect if the suspect's gun would turn out to be the murder weapon. The suspect gave no answer and shuffled nervously. The officer continued to talk with the suspect. Finally, the suspect faced murder charges, and prosecutors used the man's non-response to the gun question. The Supreme Court agreed that the prosecutor could use this as evidence, because the suspect had not expressly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights. This ruling came down to a tight vote.

What this now means is that silence can be used against you when you are outside police custody—unless you take specific action. You have to literally say that you want to invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, something along the lines of, "I want to use my right to remain silent." Otherwise, a prosecutor might say that you did not clearly protect this right. This ruling places the burden on a person to remember this legal action before he or she can be reminded by Miranda warnings or through consulting a lawyer.

If you face any criminal charges, and if you have any questions about your constitutional rights, please do not hesitate to contact Hopper Law Firm PLLC. We have the experience and dedication you need.

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