Remain Silent!

February 20, 2020

Kendall Ponchillia

The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution affords all US citizens the right to remain silent. You have a constitutional right to remain silent when interacting with law enforcement and you should do so, always, because those statements can and WILL be used against you in the court of law. You do not have to talk to law enforcement, no matter how nice and willing to help they may seem.

You also have a right to counsel under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which applies to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause. Gideon v. Wainwright. In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall have a right to have assistance of counsel with his or her defense. The Sixth Amendment applies when judicial proceedings have been initiated against the accused whether by way of a formal charge, preliminary hearing, indictment, information or arraignment. Even if you are being questioned and decide you want an attorney, you can request one and they have to seize questioning immediately and afford you your right to counsel.

Innocent and/or guilty people should never waive their right to remain silent. Naturally, the innocent want to answer law enforcement’s questions to prove they have done nothing wrong and that they are willing to cooperate with police officers. But, this perspective lands innocent people in jail all the time. Rarely do your statements help you when talking to law enforcement, even if you really have done nothing wrong.

There are so many reasons why innocent people talk and wind up in jail and the most common reason is, law enforcement can lie to you! As Americans, we want to feel safe in our country, in our homes, on the streets, at work, but also in our communications with law enforcement and we look to them to not only protect us, but to also be honest with us and about our criminal justice system. But, law enforcement can, and will, lie to you to persuade you to talk to them and waive your Fifth Amendment rights.

Law enforcement officers want you to waive your rights and are discouraged and unhappy when you lawyer up. Because law enforcement is not required to tell you the evidence they claim to have against you, or the witnesses they claim to have seen you, or the DNA at the crime scene they have, it is never safe to talk to the police outside the presence of your attorney.

Guilty people love to talk; Whether it’s because they think they know the law better, or that are smarter than cops, or that talking will help them in the long run. But, cops and prosecutors want to solve crimes and hold someone responsible, therefore they will lie to the suspect in order to hear what they want to or to be able to point the finger. In essence, don’t talk to the cops and give them the opportunity to slip up or make a mistake and take your freedom away. Always have your attorney present.

To sum it up, never waive your right to remain silent and always ask for an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, you have the right to have one appointed for you so there is absolutely no reason to not ask for an attorney.