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Why should I care about my right to remain silent?

Have you ever heard this phrase in the movies? "You have the right to remain silent and anything you say can and will be used against you." This sentence is something that the police need to tell you when they're taking you into custody. It's required by law. Failure to tell you this could interfere with a prosecutor's ability to pursue a successful criminal action against you.

Your right to remain silent is a Fifth Amendment right. The interpretation of the Fifth Amendment, which requires officers to tell you this, stems from the 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, Miranda v. Arizona. Under the Miranda ruling, here is what police have to tell a suspect when taking him or her into custody:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to an attorney.
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.

When police ask you questions or arrest you, but do not read you the Miranda rights, a U.S. court will interpret your statements and/or confessions to be involuntary. As such, they may not be used as evidence to convict you or anyone else of crimes. This evidence will probably be inadmissible in court.

Do you believe that your Miranda rights were violated? Numerous cases have been lost by Texas prosecutors as a result of a Miranda violation. As such, your criminal defense attorney will probably check to see if the officer that arrested you read you your rights in this regard.

Source: FindLaw, "Miranda rights and the fith amendment," accessed July 28, 2017

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