If you are a fan of action movies or true crime shows, you have probably heard officers advise suspects of their right to remain silent. This advisement is part of the broader warning officers read to detained individuals before they question them. Once you assert your right to remain silent, officers should stop asking you questions.
Whether you are innocent or guilty of a crime, you have the right not to incriminate yourself. That is, you usually do not have to answer questions from law enforcement. Still, with the stress of police questioning, exercising your right to remain silent can be challenging. Here are some tips that may help you assert this fundamental right.
Perhaps the easiest way to avoid incriminating yourself is to simply say nothing at all. By refusing to open your mouth, you signal to officers you are unwilling to cooperate. Of course, without affirmatively exercising your right to remain silent, officers may continue to try to elicit information from you.
When officers read your rights, they inform you of your right to remain silent. While talking to police can be intimidating, you can assert your rights by mirroring the officers’ words back to them. Saying, “I am exercising my right to remain silent,” will likely do the trick. Remember, prosecutors can use your words against you. Often, the earlier you ask officers to respect your right to remain silent, the fewer legal consequences you may face.
The advisement has two parts. In addition to the right to remain silent, you have the right to legal counsel. Usually, if you ask for a lawyer, officers cease questioning until one arrives. Then, your attorney can inform law enforcement personnel of your decision to remain silent.
No suspect enjoys interacting with the police. Nonetheless, if officers think you committed a crime, they are likely to ask you a series of questions. By successfully exercising your right to remain silent, you may minimize the odds of incriminating yourself.