What Is The Right To Remain Silent?
If you are arrested on suspicion of any type of criminal offense in Texas, you might know that you have a right to remain silent. In fact, upon your arrest, the law enforcement officer who arrested you should have read you a set of “warnings,” informing you of your right to remain silent. Yet you might be unsure about what the right to remain silent actually gives you. Further, you might have heard that the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled on a case and changed the right to remain silent under U.S. law. Our Temple criminal defense attorneys can provide you with more information about the right to remain silent and how the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could affect your rights.
Background of the Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
A person’s right to remain silent when they are arrested or in a custodial interrogation comes from the U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona (1966). The outcome of that case was that law enforcement officers were required to inform suspects who are in custody of their right to remain silent, and that anything they say may be used against them by the prosecution. In Miranda, the Court determined that a suspect in custody has these rights through the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
When you hear about “Miranda warnings,” you may know from watching television shows or from a prior arrest that those warnings also include information about your right to an attorney and that you can have an attorney appointed for you even if you cannot afford one. Those rights come from two other U.S. Supreme Court cases: Escobedo v. Illinois (1964) clarified that a person in custody has a right to an attorney, and Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) clarified that a person has a right to an attorney even if they cannot afford one. The decisions in both of these cases have become part of what are commonly known as a person’s “Miranda warnings.”
Your Silence Cannot Be Used as Evidence of Your Guilt
There are very limited circumstances in which your silence can be used as evidence of your guilt. It is critical to know that your silence while in custody — after you have been informed of your Miranda rights and have invoked those rights — cannot be used against you and cannot be used as evidence of your guilt.
Generally speaking, a person’s silence cannot be used as evidence that they are guilty. The circumstances in which this can happen are limited, and the person must not be in custody and must not have been informed of their rights under Miranda.
Does Vega v. Tekoh Affect the Right to Remain Silent?
In the recent U.S. Supreme Court case Vega v. Tekoh (2022), the Court held that a person in custody who has not been informed of their right to remain silent cannot file a civil lawsuit against the law enforcement officer who failed to read the Miranda warnings. To be clear, the decision limits a person’s options for accountability, but it does not change the fact that a person in custody must be informed of their rights.
Contact a Temple Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have any questions about your rights following an arrest or need assistance with your defense, you should contact an experienced Temple criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Katie L. Gomez, PLLC for assistance.