If you have ever watched a crime drama on television, you have likely heard an officer inform a suspect of his right to remain silent. After all, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision in 1966 requiring officers to advise detained persons of this important right. Still, during an arrest, individuals often forget to exercise their right not to speak to investigators.
Police officers receive training on how to elicit responses from uncooperative individuals. Whether you anticipate an arrest or simply want to plan for any contingency, you should think about how to assert your constitutional right against self-incrimination. Here are four ways to remain silent during police questioning.
As with most things, exercising your right to remain silent may take some practice. Before you have contact with law enforcement officials, practice asserting your rights. Also, try to visualize yourself sitting inside an interrogation room. If you know what to expect, you are more likely to avoid talking and unintentionally waiving your rights.
2. Grit your teeth
Because police officers can be intimidating, you may nervously talk to lighten the mood. Doing so, however, could be disastrous for your criminal case. Remember, prosecutors can use your statements against you in court to obtain a conviction. Rather than engaging in small talk or answering questions, grit your teeth and stay quiet.
3. Carry a card
You may be able to inform the police of your unwillingness to talk without opening your mouth at all. Consider using a business card to write down your refusal to answer questions. Also, include your lawyer’s contact information if possible. Put the card in your wallet and carry it with you wherever you go. If an officer arrests you, provide the card instead of answering questions.
4. Know your attorney’s name
Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you may not have your wallet with you. If you know your attorney’s name, you can use it to help you exercise your right to remain silent. Giving the arresting officer your attorney’s information generally indicates you do not wish to proceed without the assistance of counsel.
Going through an arrest or interrogation can be unbelievably stressful. As you likely know, exercising your right to remain silent can be difficult during traumatic situations. Nonetheless, talking to investigators without the assistance of counsel can harm your criminal case. With a bit of effort, though, you can likely preserve your legal right not to incriminate yourself.