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How to Exercise Your Right to be Silent

It's not just in the movies that people have the right to remain silent when arrested. The famous "you have the right to remain silent" speech that you've surely heard many times in movies and TV shows during an arrest scene actually represents one of the few instances in which Hollywood is being true to U.S. criminal law. Police officers warning you about your rights - the so-called Miranda rights - is normal procedure. So if you are being questioned by the police, when do police officers need to warn you about your Miranda rights and how can you exercise your right to remain silent? 

When Should You be Advised of Your Rights?

Police officers are obligated to provide Miranda warnings when they interrogate a person in custody. A person is in a custody situation when they don't feel free to just leave.

This means that if a police officer tells someone that they are not under arrest and are free to leave if they want before starting to interrogate them, that the police officer does not have to advise the interrogated person of their rights.

If You Want to Invoke Your Right to be Silent, You Have to Speak Up

If you are being interrogated by the police, whether you are in custody or not, if you want to invoke your right to be silent, you should explicitly tell the police officer this. In a recent case (Salinas vs. Texas), a suspect who was not in custody, but was being questioned by a police officer, so who wasn't told the Miranda warnings, didn't answer one of the officer's questions. His silence after this specific question was later used against him in court as an indication of guilt. While a suspect's silence couldn't be used against them in court in the past, with this recent case it looks like this has changed.

If you're being interrogated by the police, whether you've been read your rights or not, if you want to invoke your right to remain silent, it's safest to clearly tell the police officer this, so your silence can't be used against you in court.

If you've been arrested for criminal charges, it is very important that you contact an experienced criminal lawyer who can assist you with your case. The attorneys at The Kyle Law Firm have ample experience with handling criminal cases and will defend your rights aggresively.Contact us today for a free consultation.

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