Robert L. Sepp | Attorney at Law
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The importance of your right to remain silent

On Behalf of | Apr 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

When you are arrested or in a situation involving police, you are often wondering what rights you have. You might be thinking of more active rights, such as your right to speak with an attorney.

However, one of your most important rights does not involve doing or saying anything at all and that is your right to remain silent.

You probably know that you have this right. If you are arrested, it is the first right read to you as part of your Miranda warnings. But it is common for people to disregard this right or downplay its importance, for various reasons.

Why talking is so tempting

Interactions with police officers make most people nervous, especially immigrants or people who are less familiar with our country’s rules and laws. This anxiety often leads to people talking more hoping to explain their side of the story or be friendly with the officers.

The problem is the anxiety usually works against us. Statements we make can come out wrong and be misinterpreted by the officers. Even simple statements, such as an apology, can be taken as an admission to a crime.

No matter how difficult it might be while in the moment, remember to resist the temptation to speak and exercise your right to remain silent. You should provide the officers with your name and identification if they ask but you do not need to answer any of their other questions.

Watch for signs of harassment

Police officers know you have a right to remain silent. However, they may ask you the same question repeatedly, hoping you will finally speak. They could also try asking you the same question in a different way.

While they are allowed to question you, they should not harass or threaten you. If you start to feel this way, politely and respectfully tell them that you are exercising your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney.

This is often easier said than done. If you do speak during an arrest, detainment or interrogation, do not panic. If any of your statements led to criminal charges, the circumstances surrounding your case should be explored to determine if any criminal defenses are available.