Law enforcement officers and prosecutors are constantly looking for ways to build cases that leave them well positioned to obtain a conviction against an individual they believe has committed a crime. Although the law tries to strike a balance between protecting personal liberty and public safety, far too often overzealous police officers infringe on an individual’s rights. When this happens, individuals can be wrongly accused and even wrongfully convicted, leaving them subjected to serious penalties.
In the event that an individual is arrested, one of the worst things he can do is speak to the police. Investigators are trained at teasing out information and catching people in contradictions. This can sometimes make innocent people look guilty. For this reasons, those who are being questioned by the police should carefully consider invoking their right to remain silent. An individual should be notified of this right as part of the reading of his or her Miranda rights, and officers should not continue to question an individual once he or she invokes that right.
However, to ensure that officers understand one’s intent and the courts don’t question it, an individual should be clear when invoking his or her right to remain silent. Obviously, this is best accomplished by simply stating that one is invoking the right to remain silent. But it must be clear. Giving some sort of ambiguous phrase about maybe wanting a lawyer or maybe not talking is not sufficient.
Once that right has been invoked, an accused individual should refrain from speaking. If officers continue to questions an individual and he or she subsequently speaks, then those statements may be disallowed form being used against him or her at trial so long as the right to remain silent was clearly invoked.
Oftentimes, statements made by a defendant are the most damaging evidence used against him or her at trial. To try to avoid the harm these statements can cause, those accused of a crime may want to speak with a criminal defense. A legal professional with a strong grasp on the laws and the rules of evidence could help a defendant assert an aggressive defense..