Can my statements during the traffic stop be used against me if I am just answering and responding to the officer while he is standing outside my window?
What about situations when speaking to an officer during a non-traffic stop, at my house or even at a location that would be considered in public?
Anything You Say Can And Will Be Used Against You!
Silence is and can be considered an admission of guilt and can be used against you in court. If your intention are to remain silent then you MUST state or assert, Officer I am exercising my right to remain silent.
In 2013 the United States Supreme Court in A 5-4 ruling, U.S. v Salinas, upheld the murder conviction of a Texas man who bit his lip when an officer asked him about shotgun shells. At his trial, prosecutors pointed to the defendant’s silence as evidence of his guilt. In affirming the conviction of Genovevo Salinas, the court’s majority admitted that some suspects might think they had a right to say nothing.
“Popular misconceptions notwithstanding,” the Constitution “does not establish an unqualified ‘right to remain silent,” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Rather, he said, the 5th Amendment says no one may be “compelled in any criminal case to be witness against himself. ” Since the Miranda decision in 1966, the court has said police must warn suspects of their rights when they are taken into custody.
But the Miranda decision covers only suspects who are held in custody and are not free to leave.
In the Texas case, Salinas was asked to come to the police station, and he agreed to do so. “All agree that the interview was noncustodial,” Alito said, so the police were not required to read him his rights under the Miranda decision.
And although Salinas had a qualified right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment, a suspect must invoke his rights and say he wants to remain silent, the court ruled.
Salinas “alone knew why he did not answer the officer’s question, and it was therefore his burden to make a timely assertion of the privilege,” Alito said.
The Impact of the Salinas case is that the police need only to ask questions before putting some into custody to use their silence against them. What is particularly troublesome is how subjective this evidence is. To use the silence and demeanor of a suspect on this question is highly prejudicial and equally unreliable. Yet, now the refusal to answer questions (which is your right) can now be used against you. You can imagine how this new rule can be used any time someone wants to speak with a lawyer or a family member. Police can now recount how they did not assist them or volunteer information.
Citizens will now be able to have protected silence only after being placed in custody. Of course you had that right before that point, but silence would now be incriminating. That gives police every incentive to delay custody — an incentive that already exists due to other rules like Miranda.
The only way to avoid having your silence used against you, prior to custodial interrogation is to assert your rights during the investigation. Instead of waiting for the police to Mirandize you, make it clear that you are exercising your rights.
The SCOTUS holding in Salinas is an example of how important it is that citizens are aware of their rights when interacting with Police Officers. Salinas is a terrible ruling, certainly one that will result in evidence of a person’s silence being used against them at a trial.
The use of evidence of pre arrest silence would seem to have the effect of compelling the accused to take the stand and explain his silence, which is a fundamental principal that the 5th amendment protects. It also represents the thin line where the rubber meets the road and the dangers of police encroachments on citizens’ rights.
The Dissent of Justice Breyer stresses these dangers and the slippery slope this opinion provides to eradicate citizen protections during police encounters.
“The need to categorize Salinas’ silence as based on the Fifth Amendment is supported here by the presence, in full force, of the predicament I discussed earlier, namely that of not forcing Salinas to choose between incrimination through speech and incrimination through silence. That need is also supported by the absence of any special reason that the police had to know, with certainty, whether Salinas was, in fact, relying on the Fifth Amendment—such as whether to doubt that there really was a risk of self-incrimination, see Hoffman v. United States, 341 U. S. 479, 486 (1951), or whether to grant immunity, see Kastigar, 406 U. S., at 448.
Given these circumstances, Salinas’ silence was “sufficient to put the [government] on notice of an apparent claim of the privilege.” Quinn, supra, at 164. That being so, for reasons similar to those given in Griffin, the Fifth Amendment bars the evidence of silence admitted against Salinas and mentioned by the prosecutor.”
Be aware of Police Questions:
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