Time after time you’ve seen it on primetime TV police shows how cops slap the cuff on a perpetrator and read them their rights – “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” Whether you’d like to believe it or not, this arrest scene in one or the other Hollywood movie also plays out in real life and applies to the laws of criminal procedure. Miranda vs. Arizona compels law enforcement officials to advise arrested suspects of their rights, which include the option of not saying anything.

Often, during the time of the arrest, the defendant is so bewildered and shocked that they do not hear half the words being said. Due to this, it is in your best interest to rather remain silent, until you had a chance to speak to a trusted law firm like NJ Traffic Court under the direction of criminal defense attorney, Mark Bernstein.

Officers would also tell arrestees that:

  • They are within their right to talk to a lawyer
  • A lawyer or attorney can be present during questioning
  • If they can’t afford one, then they have access to a lawyer who will represent them free of charge
  • They can halt the interview at any time to answer police questions.

When Do the Police Have to Advise You or Your Rights?

Officers of the law need to provide Miranda warnings from the moment they interrogate someone who is in custody. This would include not only express questioning but also any actions or words the police officers should be aware of that are likely to elicit an incriminating response.

The after effects of Miranda warnings is that prosecution may not use a suspect’s unwillingness to talk as evidence of guilt in a court of law. However, the law doesn’t require the police officers to Mirandize someone who isn’t really in custody. Due to this, officers of the law would routinely question suspects after letting them know that they are not placed under arrest and are free to go. In cases like these, cops don’t have to provide Miranda warnings.

You Can’t Always be Silent Even Though You Want to Be 

During a closely contested decision in 2013, the U.S Supreme Court held that prosecutors can 

now under certain situations, point out to someone who got arrested out of custody that their 

silence when being questioned by the police can be seen as evidence of guilt. According to the 

Court, the prosecution is allowed to comment on a suspect’s silence who: 

● Has not been Mirandized and is out of police custody 

● Voluntarily and willingly submit themselves to police questioning

● Stays silent without invoking the Fifth Amendment rights.  

The only way to stop the government from introducing evidence during the trial of the suspect’s 

silence is to invoke the right to say nothing. What this means is that without being advised by a 


lawyer or being warned by the cops, and without being read your Miranda rights (which invoke the 


right to remain silent), the one being interviewed must say words like –  “I invoke my privilege 


against self-incrimination.” 



What Led to This New Ruling? 

In one particular case, an officer of the law who investigated a murder asked the suspect, who eventually turned out to be the offender out of custody, some questions for an hour long. The officer refrained from Mirandizing the suspect. The suspect answered all the questions, but he hesitated once the officer asked him whether the ballistics test would reveal that the shell casings found will match the suspect’s gun. In the end, he did not answer this particular question but carried on answering some additional questions. 

Later on, during the trial, the prosecutors charged the defendant with murder as they argued that his reaction to the shell casing question suggested that he was guilty.  

At the time, the Court ruled that the argument presented by the prosecutors was proper as the defendant did not clearly indicate that he intended to assert the Fifth Amendment right when he was asked about the shell casings. So, to avoid any confusion in the future, the new ruling ordered by the Court will leave no doubt in the mind of the convicted that remaining silent under certain circumstances can be viewed as being guilty of the offense they were arrested for.  


To learn more about your right to remain silent and when it is best to turn to an experienced defense attorney, visit http://njtrafficcourt.com/ Call Mark Bernstein of Burlington County NJ attorney office.



Criminal Defense Attorney Advise on Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent

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