Are You Invoking Your Miranda Rights if You Remain Silent?

While you might think remaining silent would invoke your Miranda rights, it does not.

In 1966, the right to remain silent arose from the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Miranda v. Arizona. This landmark case involved the arrest of Ernesto Miranda by the Phoenix Police Department based on circumstantial evidence of rape and kidnapping. After a two-hour interrogation, Miranda signed a confession that contained words typed by the department that said he was confessing of his own free will through no threats or coercion, among other things. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the confession was inadmissible evidence because at no time had the police informed Miranda of his Fourth Amendment rights against self-incrimination and to be represented by a lawyer.

In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed the case Berghuis v. Thompkins. Authorities had informed Thompkins of his rights prior to interrogating him about a shooting in which the victim died. For more than three hours of interrogation, Thompkins remained silent until the officer asked him whether he believed in God. He answered yes. Did he pray to God? He answered yes. Did he ask God to forgive him for the shooting? He answered yes. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Thompkins failed to invoke his Miranda rights by not stating he wished to remain silent and that he wanted a lawyer. His answer to the last self-incriminating question was admissible evidence and his conviction was upheld.

Under no circumstances is it ever a good idea to answer questions after you have been taken into custody. However, always invoke your Miranda rights by voicing your intention to remain silent and asking for an attorney. No matter what charges you face, an experienced Arizona criminal defense law firm can help protect your rights and provide you with valuable legal help.