Can My Silence Be Used Against Me?

When the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision in Miranda v. Arizona, you could almost hear the cheers from criminal defendants across the nation. It seemed as though the government was finally going to be made to recognize the individual rights of a criminal defendant. Chief among these rights is the right to remain silent, because as we have all heard by now “anything you say can and will be used against you.” But, over the years since the Miranda case was decided, the rights that were seemingly guaranteed by this landmark decision have slowly begun to erode, and people are left wondering whether its better to remain silent or explain themselves to the police. One of the most difficult decisions when you are being placed under arrest is whether to remain silent or talk, because there is a common feeling that exercising the right to remain silent is seen as an admission of guilt.

Thus, we all question whether we should provide some sort of response to police questioning, or whether our silence will be used against us and if so, what Miranda rights truly remain? Here are a few tips about remaining silent:

• While it is your right to keep a tight lip, the police may look upon it with suspicion. Many people believe that if you have nothing to hide, then there is no reason to keep quiet.
• If you decide to remain silent, it is improper to use that silence against you as “proof” of your guilt. This can best be explained as an extension of your right against self-incrimination (referred to as “taking the 5th”). There is no requirement that you divulge incriminating information, and your remaining silent helps to protect that right.
• If your case goes before a jury, you should expect the judge to admonish the jury that your silence cannot be used against you.

In theory, this is how it works, but as the first bullet point makes clear, it can seem suspicious. Given the fine line between drawing attention to yourself through silence and simply wishing to exercise the rights guaranteed to you, it is best to call on a qualified attorney if you are concerned about this issue. We represent people charged with various types of crimes with all sorts of fact patterns. We know how to help, and we are here to offer aggressive defense of any charges against you.

If you have questions about criminal defense, call our office for answers. Call an experienced criminal defense attorney in Key West.