Right to Remain Silent

Bill of rights, constitution, 5th amendment, fifth amendment, racine, kenosha, westosha, milwaukee, wisconsinThe Right To Reman Silent

The 5th Amendment was ratified by Congress in 1791. It is part of the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. The 5th Amendment provides several protections, but one of the most commonly invoked protections is the right to remain silent. This right originally only applied to proceedings in federal court but not state court. This is a crucial distinction, as most criminal defendants are tried in state courts. This changed after the Civil War as part of a trend in which the Bill of Rights was systematically applied to all of the states by the United States Supreme Court. In 1961, the Supreme Court decided in Miranda v. Arizona that the right to remain silent applied not just in the courtroom, but also to any situation where individual freedom of action is curtailed, such as police interrogation.

Defendants Usually Do Not Testify

The 5th Amendment right to remain silent has thus grown dramatically from its humble beginnings in 1791. Indeed, popular depictions of the 5th Amendment Right are numerous. They might involve a defendant in a criminal case refusing to take the stand at trial, or a suspect in police custody refusing to answer questions without the presence of a lawyer. Although often dramatized, these situations are very common. In criminal cases, defendants usually do not testify. This is sometimes because the defendant would need to tell the truth on the stand about what happened and thus give evidence against himself. In other situations, a defendant may avoid the stand so their testimony cannot be misconstrued to say something different than what they meant. Before a criminal trial, the defendant’s attorney will help him to understand the benefits and the risks of taking the stand.

You Can Decline To Talk To The Police

But does the right to remain silent apply to someone who is not on trial? What if the police ask you questions about someone else who is suspected of having committed a crime? Often, people believe that they have to answer questions asked by the police. However, this is not the case. It is acceptable for you to decline to answer any questions asked by the police, even if you have been subpoenaed as a witness in a criminal case. Furthermore, refusing to answer questions may be a wise decision, especially if your answers could be interpreted more than one way. If you are in doubt about whether you should answer questions asked by the police, you should politely decline and then consult with an attorney. This is a better alternative to making an incriminating admission. If you do answer questions, always be truthful.

Corporations And Business Entities Do Not Have The Right To Remain silent

When does the Fifth Amendment not apply? The Fifth cannot be pled by corporations or business entities. It is available only to an individual person. Also, the Fifth cannot preclude a third party, such as your employer, from producing documents to incriminate you.

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If you are in doubt as to whether to exercise your right to remain silent, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Contact our lawyers today for a free consultation.