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Criminal Defense 101: Exercising your right to remain silent

Whether you were pulled over for operating while intoxicated (OWI) or face other serious criminal charges, exercising your right to remain silent could make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. If you choose not to invoke that right, you could face a barrage of questions that are specifically designed to implicate you in a crime.

Declining to answer questions from police is not about obstruction. It is about protecting and exercising your rights.

Asserting your Miranda rights

You have probably heard of “Miranda rights,” which are named after a historic U.S. Supreme Court case – Miranda v. Arizona – in 1966. The result of the case means that police officers are required to inform suspects of their Fifth Amendment protections against self-incrimination, as well as suspects’ right to have an attorney.

Failure of the police to advise you of your Miranda rights means that any statements or confessions you make should not be allowed as evidence in a possible criminal case.

Asserting your Miranda rights does not necessarily mean that you remain completely silent. If you need to, you can communicate more than once that you are invoking your Fifth Amendment rights. You can directly assert that you want to remain silent or that you want to speak with an attorney, and either of these statements should provide the protections you are entitled to under the law.

Making the choice to speak to police could put you up against interrogators who have years of experience in manipulating suspects through non-coercive methods, such as asking leading questions while carefully parsing words. Before you know what is happening, you could incriminate yourself and unintentionally provide the police with information that they can use against you, even if you did nothing wrong.

No criminal charge automatically leads to a conviction. You have a right to defend against the charge. The best way to do that is to get help from an experienced team of criminal defense attorneys.