You Have the Right to Remain Silent Until a Lawyer Is Present

Treadaway & Treadaway April 24, 2018

Whether you are stopped by the police for questioning or are placed under arrest, understand that you have the right to remain silent. This right is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, and it is important that you affirmatively invoke this right if you are questioned by police or placed under arrest.

Speaking With Law Enforcement Without an Attorney Present Is a Mistake

Innocent parties may think there is nothing to lose by interacting with the police during questioning, but this is often untrue. The right to remain silent is no less important just because you personally know that you are innocent of any suspected wrongdoing.

The reason for this is evident in the recitation police are required to give a defendant who is placed under arrest. Police inform individuals that they have a right to remain silent, while continuing to add that "anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." This warning is required based on the landmark Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). This case also required law enforcement to inform you that you have the right to the presence of an attorney, even if you cannot afford private counsel.

Invoking Your Right to an Attorney Requires Police to Cease Interrogation

The right to silence is essential, and you should affirmatively tell police "I want to remain silent." However, you can also request the right to an attorney whenever you are placed under arrest or are subjected to a "custodial interrogation," which means police questioning in an environment in which you are not free to leave.

In such scenarios, make sure to then immediately request the presence of an attorney, rather than answering questions posed by law enforcement. The same influential case of Miranda v. Arizona and the Sixth Amendment ensure that all police questioning and interrogation must end once a suspect requests the presence of an attorney. Using the right to silence and then requesting a lawyer are two foundational pillars of protecting your rights when law enforcement questions you or places you under arrest.