How to exercise your right to remain silent

| Dec 14, 2020 | Criminal Defense |

If you are taken into custody in California, you must be notified of your right to remain silent. However, if you fail to invoke your right to do so, anything that you say may be used as evidence in court. Let’s take a look at what you must do to invoke your right not to say anything after being apprehended by a police officer.

Would a police officer interpret your words as a request for counsel?

As a general rule, you exercise your right to remain silent by making any statement that a reasonable officer would interpret as a request for legal counsel. For example, you could explicitly state that you won’t talk to authorities without an attorney present. Alternatively, you can simply state that you’d like to refrain from saying anything about a given matter without asking for an attorney. It’s important to note that you can invoke your rights before they are read by an officer.

What happens after you exercise your right to remain silent?

After informing an officer that you don’t want to talk, an interrogation must come to an end. If an interrogation doesn’t come to an end, any statements that are made are unlikely to be admissible in court.

Don’t create any doubts about your intent

It is critical that you make an unambiguous declaration of your wish to remain silent. In most cases, making statements implying that you’ll seek legal counsel at a later date isn’t enough to put a halt to an interrogation. Furthermore, simply remaining silent isn’t an invocation of your right to do so. Finally, it may be a good idea to declare your intent to stay quiet multiple times to ensure that your request is heard and understood. If you have been taken into custody, it is generally a good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney who may be able to ensure that you don’t say or do anything that might undermine your ability to receive a favorable outcome.