Silence May Not Be So Golden: “Salinas v. Texas”
This month the United States Supreme court decided the above important case. Before Mr. Salinas was arrested he answered some questions by the police. After awhile, he remained silent for a long period of time and chose to not answer any questions.
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides: “No person . . . shall be compelled to be witness against himself. ” But in a plurality opinion, a case in which the justices agree on the result but not the reasoning, a slim majority of five justices essentially found that the Fifth Amendment doesn’t mean what it says. The justices argued that silence was ambiguous because the defendant could have remained silent because he felt guilty , not to invoke his rights.
But the U.S. Constitution does not require that someone say they are invoking their right to remain silent. To the contrary the Fifth Amendment indicates that the way someone exercises their fifth amendment right is to remain silent.
The Five Justices of the United States Supreme Court got this one wrong and further eroded our constitutional rights. Remember though, this law only applies to a person who has not yet been arrested–at least it does for the time being until perhaps an even worse court case comes along. Two justices went as far as saying that it would not be error to comment on a defendant’s remaining silent after arrest.
Moral: Don’t ever talk to the cops regardless if you are guilty and innocent AND TELL THEM BEFORE YOU REMAIN QUIET, THAT YOU ARE EXERCISING YOUR RIGHT TO REMAIN SILENT.