Understanding Your Right to Remain Silent

A Florida police officer pulls you over on suspected DUI or stops you on the street a potential robbery. Can you invoke your right to remain silent? The U.S. Constitution and Florida Constitution give an accused the right to remain silent when faced with questioning from law enforcement officials regarding suspected illegal activity. However, your right to remain silent is not all encompassing. There are specific limitations you need to be aware of.

Miranda Rights

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) established that an accused individual, when placed in custody by a police officer, has specific rights. These rights include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney when being questioned by police, and the right to an appointed attorney if you cannot afford legal counsel.

However, understand that your Miranda rights do not come into play until you have been arrested. This means if a police officer pulls you over on a suspected DUI and the officer asks you how fast you were traveling, you should answer.

Failure to Read Your Miranda Rights Does Not Mean Your Case is Immediately Dismissed

Some people mistakenly think that if a police officer did not read them their Miranda rights immediately upon arrest, their criminal charges can be dismissed. That is not accurate. The failure of law enforcement officials to read you your Miranda rights does not result in an automatic dismissal of the criminal charges.

The consequence of not having your Miranda rights read to you is suppression of evidence. This means that any statements you made while being interrogated by police will be excluded from evidence. Of course, suppression of key evidence can result in dismissal. Nevertheless, in many cases, the state will continue with its case and try to convict you without the suppressed evidence.

Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent is Not Something a Prosecutor Can Use Against You in Court

According to the Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona, “comment on an accused’s post-arrest silence is constitutional error.” Basically, this means that it is unconstitutional for a prosecutor to use your silence against you. The Florida Supreme Court has even declared that a prosecutor’s comment on an accused’s right to remain silent “strikes at the heart of our criminal justice system.” A prosecutor is prohibited from introducing, at trial, the fact that you relied on this protection in the face of a criminal accusation.

If You Waived Your Right to Remain Silent, You Can Re-Assert the Right

Some Floridians mistakenly believe that if they waive their right to remain silent and agree to be questioned by police, they have to answer every question. Not true. Even if you waived your Miranda rights, you can reassert those rights and end the police questioning. But keep in mind, according to the Florida case Shorter v. State, 98 So.3d 685 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012), you must clearly and unambiguously reassert your Miranda right after voluntary waiving them.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

If you or a loved one was arrested, contact an experienced and aggressive West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney. The Skier Law Firm, P.A. is here to help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.

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