When facing arrest and interrogation, your right to remain silent is a valuable tool for protecting yourself. Understanding the importance of this right helps you to avoid accidentally providing information that could jeopardize your freedom.
The more you know about your right to remain silent, the easier it is to exercise it properly.
Recognizing police questioning
Remember that police questioning is not always formal and in an interrogation room. Sometimes, questioning happens in a way that appears like a conversation with subtle tactics intended to get you to reveal something they can use against you. Exercising your right to remain silent in any questioning reduces this risk.
Understanding the consequences of speaking
If you waive your right to remain silent or you underestimate your situation with the police, they can use anything you say against you in court, even if they take the words out of context or misconstrue your statements. A seemingly innocuous statement might provide the prosecution with evidence depending on how they present it.
Exercising your right to silence
Avoid answering any questions or making any statements, even in what seems like a casual conversation with an officer. Instead, politely inform the officer that you choose not to answer any questions without representation and are exercising your right to remain silent. Once you say that, do not answer any questions. Doing so could appear as a waiver of your right and anything you say becomes evidence.
According to a 2019 article by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, more than a quarter of the people exonerated in recent years by The Innocence Project originally confessed due to pressure from their police interrogation. Protect yourself from this risk with a thorough understanding and appreciation of your right to remain silent.