Protecting your rights with silence

Whenever a person faces criminal charges, he or she has the right to remain silent instead of answer any questions, no matter what the nature of the charges may be. This is an important right that guarantees all suspects the opportunity to assess their rights and confer with an attorney who can help advise them before they incriminate themselves.

Of course, understanding this right and exercising it are two completely different things. Many individuals conceptually understand that they have the right to remain silent, but in the moment they may not recognize when they should remain silent and how to invoke their rights.

In general, a suspect is only required to provide a police officer or law enforcement agent with his or her name and identification. Beyond that, a suspect may refuse to speak until he or she has an attorney present. Those who do not know how to invoke this right may say something simple like "I want to remain silent" or "I wish to invoke my right to silence until my attorney is present." While these may not feel like the most natural ways to convey this intention, they are clear and effective.

If you believe that an officer of the law violated your rights, or if you suspect that you said too much when charged with a crime, you can consult with an experienced attorney to understand your circumstances more fully. An attorney can help you identify weaknesses in the evidence against you and build a strong defense to keep your rights and freedoms protected from unfair practices.

Source: FindLaw, "Invoking the Right to Remain Silent," accessed Feb. 09, 2018

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