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Invoking Your Right to Silence with Police

If you’ve watched enough cop shows on TV, you know you have the right to remain silent after you have been arrested. Your Miranda rights, which stem from the case of Miranda v. Arizona (1965), are the rights officers are required by law to read to you when taking you into custody. These rights inform you that:

  • You have the right to remain silent
  • What you say can be used against you in court
  • You have the right to consult with an attorney
  • Your attorney can be present with you during questioning
  • If you cannot afford an attorney, the government will provide one to you
  • If you decide to answer questions, you can stop the interview at any time

Officers must read these rights to you if they are to interrogate you while you are in their custody.

Keep in mind that your right to silence only applies if you have been Mirandized and expressly invoke your right to silence. Your silence will not help you if you were not in police custody, if you voluntarily answered police questions or if you stayed silent without invoking your rights.

If you wish to invoke your rights, all you need to do is say you are exercising your right to silence or that you are “pleading the fifth.” In doing so, your silence cannot be mentioned at a trial and cannot be used as evidence against you. The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from self-incrimination and unfair practices on the part of law enforcement officers and agencies.

To learn more about invoking your right to silence, including when and how to do it, consult a knowledgeable Reading criminal defense lawyer with David R. Eshelman: A Professional Corporation.


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