Supreme Court Curtails Miranda Rights – Now What Do We Do?

Yesterday, in a Southfield, MI murder case the United States Supreme Court dealt a shocking blow to your Constitutional rights. In essence, the Court gutted the People’s right to remain silent under the long established Miranda Warnings.

Now, according the Supreme Court’s 5 to 4 decision in Berghuis v. Tompkins, 08-1470, decided June 1, 2010, if the police read you your rights, your silence is no longer golden. Instead, you must speak up and specifically tell the police that you want to remain silent and that you will not answer any questions. If you do not “affirmatively assert” your right to silence, all bets are off. If you do not affirmatively tell the police you refuse to answer questions, the police may interrogate without restriction – as long as they want – until they get you to say something.

The critical lesson of this case is this: if you are ever confronted or questioned by the police, you MUST specifically tell them that you want to remain silent and that you refuse to answer questions. Just sitting there saying nothing for hours on end is now insufficient to invoke your right to remain silent.

Because of yesterday’s court decision, remember to respectfully and politely tell the police the following:

  1. I do not want to speak with you.
  2. I refuse to answer questions.
  3. I would like to speak with my attorney.

Then, do not waiver and stand firm on your constitutional rights.

If and when the time comes that making a statement is in your best interest, you will have ample time to do so – after consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Until then, tell the police you want to stay silent and that you refuse to answer questions. Also, ask for a lawyer. Then shut up! In the long run, this approach may keep a bad situation from getting worse. It may also keep you from going to prison.

Copyright June 2, 2010, Law Office of John Freeman, PLLC