You Have a Right to Remain Silent But When Does it Start?

If you watch crime shows on TV, you’ve probably heard the Miranda warning more times than you can count. This reminds you of your Constitutional right to remain silent if you’re being questioned by law enforcement about a crime. Even though you may be aware of this, you need to know when it’s legal to start exercising this right.

You are within your rights to refuse to speak to anyone you don’t want to, including law enforcement. This right is in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights as the Fifth Amendment to protect individuals from self-incrimination. However, police officers are only required to advise you of this before holding you for a custodial interrogation.

What is Meant by a Custodial Interrogation?

A custodial interrogation occurs when law enforcement holds you for questioning, which means you are not free to go. Since these situations can be scary, it’s not easy to figure out if you are in custody or not. If you’ve been placed in a police car or been handcuffed, you are likely in custody.

The easiest way to find out would be to ask if you’re in custody or if you’re free to go. Law enforcement agencies are required to answer this truthfully. If you’re told that you’re free to go, it’s unlikely that they have to explain your legal right to remain silent.  

When Should You Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent?

The prosecutor has a right to use anything you tell the police against you if it will help them get a conviction. Anything you say to law enforcement whether you’re being held in a custodial interrogation or not, can be used against you. Therefore, your best bet would be to say absolutely nothing.

However, you shouldn’t be ambiguous about why you’re not telling them anything. By explaining to the police that you are now invoking your right to remain silent, it makes your intentions clear. Once you do this, you need to stop talking because law enforcement can still use anything you voluntarily say against you.

In the end, you have every right to force law enforcement to prove their case against you. They have no right to expect you to help them do this, so it is often beneficial to stay silent from the very beginning.

If you have been arrested or are currently involved in a criminal investigation, contact our office today for a free consultation. We can advise you on the best strategies for your defense and guide you when speaking with law enforcement agencies. Contact our office today at 940-566-0271 or send us a message to speak with an experienced attorney.