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Your Right to Remain Silent

This is a Guest Blog post.

What is the Right to Remain Silent?

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees that you never have to be forced in any criminal case to be a witness against yourself.  The main purpose of your right to remain silent is to protect you from certain ways that government officials and police officers abuse and overreach their authority.  If you are being arrested or interrogated by the police remember that you have a right to remain silent.

Why You Should Never Talk to the Police

A police officer’s job is usually summed up in their motto, “To Serve and Protect”.   The key question to consider is who the police are serving and protecting in different situations. When you are being arrested or taken into custody, you are a possible suspect of a crime and the officer’s first responsibility is to protect the surrounding community from you.

The officer is looking to get any information from you, which will help him testify against you in court and help the state win a conviction.    Never talk to the police after an arrest because anything you say will be used against you in court!

Police Officers are Trained to Get You Talking

Plain and simple, the police can never force you into saying anything.  When you get arrested however worry and nerves start playing a factor and you are not thinking clearly.   The police are trained to use tactics and tricks to use how you are feeling at the moment against you and provoke you into answering their questions.

One tactic an officer will use is saying they are in a position of authority and that they have the power to go easy on you if you cooperate with them.  What they are really asking you is to make their job easy so they have the information they need to convict you of a crime and put you in jail.  Do not fall for police tricks – remain silent, the police can never force you into saying anything.

How Do I Exercise My Rights?

Saying you want to remain silent during an arrest is backed by your right to privacy and to be left alone.  Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty, which means that the police and the prosecutor (the attorney representing the State who is pursuing the case against you) must do all the work to build a case.

If you remain silent you are making it harder on the state to establish a case against you.  It is the prosecutor’s responsibility and burden to prove their case.  If they do not have enough information or evidence to build a case against you, you will likely be let free.  Once you are under arrest or being interrogated by the police, tell the officer that “I am exercising my right to remain silent”.

What if the Police Won’t Let Me Out of Jail?

Once you exercise your right to silence the police must stop questioning you.  If they do not allow you to leave or they continue to question you, ask for an attorney immediately.  An experienced defense attorney is in the best position to serve and protect your rights.

The police cannot hold you in custody for a long period of time without charging you with a crime. Remember that being charged with something does not mean that you are guilty of the crime itself.  It only means that the police are formally accusing you of a crime.  You will go to court where the prosecutor will try to prove to the judge that you are guilty of the offense.

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