The Constitution of the United States gives you the right to be silent if you are placed under arrest. Known as the Miranda warning, it can be provided to you by a police officer at the time of an arrest. There are still many people who are confused by what this right is and why it is so beneficial to them.
Why is the right to remain silent important?
The reason people are given a right to remain silent is to assure that they are not compelled to provide any information that may incriminate themselves. However, staying silent is not always easy to do. At the time of an arrest or while a police officer is accumulating information or evidence, it can be easy to want to get the situation under control by explaining your side of the story. While your side of the story may seem logical to you, it may end up shining a light in your direction in a criminal case that is not in your best interest.
You may also want to plead your case to an arresting officer in the hopes you can stop or reverse an arrest. However, it is not only very rare, but extremely rare that an officer will not go through with an arrest due to you pleading your case on the spot. Some might believe that staying silent means you are guilty, but it does not matter what is being said at the time of arrest, it only matters what will be said in court in front of judge. You will want to make sure your testimony in court is developed thoroughly with the assistance of an attorney. By working with an attorney, you can prepare your case after reviewing all the evidence. This is the best time to speak on your behalf.
How to use your right to remain silent
If you are in a situation that an officer is speaking with you and you feel uncomfortable with the situation or the questions, simply ask the officer if you are free to leave. If the officer does not grant you permission to leave, you are being detained. You will have the right to remain silent and do not have any obligation to speak or answer questions. You should tell the officer you are remaining silent until you can speak with an attorney. Police can be experts at asking questions and you do not want to be caught off guard without having an attorney with you.
The main reason for staying silent is to make sure you have the chance to represent yourself in the best possible way when the time comes. You do not need to worry about how much you are frustrating the police with your silence or feeling you are hindering an investigation. Staying silent under questioning is the best way to protect yourself from any confusion or misunderstandings until you can have the security of an attorney to represent you.