Monday, August 9, 2010

YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT UNDER NEW SUPREME COURT LAW

If you have watched enough TV police shows, you have heard the Miranda warning given to suspects, time and time again. “You have a right to an attorney. You have a right to remain silent. Any statements you make can and will be used against you….” But now under new Supreme Court case law, if you wish to remain silent, you must say so as clearly as possible.

In Berghuis v Thompkins, the Defendant invoked his right to remain silent by simply not saying anything under questioning for a long period of time. When police continued to question him, he eventually made a statement to the police, which he tried to suppress based on the police violating his right to remain silent.

The Court held that the Defendant’s actions were not sufficient to invoke his right to remain silent. The statements the Defendant made were admitted against him. The Court said that any invocation of Miranda must be “unambiguous” so that the police will not have to guess regarding whether they should have cut off questioning. (A previous case ruled that if a Defendant wants an attorney, he or she must also do so clearly.)

So if you are arrested and taken into police custody, what should you do? After signing your Miranda warning form, you should tell the police “I want to remain silent,” and “I want an attorney.” Only by making these unambiguous statements will your Miranda rights be protected under the new case law. Whatever you do, do not give up your Miranda rights by signing a “Waiver” form.

Even if you assert these rights, the police could try to make you sufficiently uncomfortable to want to start talking even if they are not doing anything illegal. You might have to wait a long time in a relatively cold room. While statements made after a Defendant invokes his right to remain silent may not be admissible in Court, the best chance for your defense depends on your continued silence until you have an attorney present.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and are in police custody or if you have any questions, feel free to contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-1470.pdf

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves clients in the communities of Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Highland Park, Kenilworth, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Palatine, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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