Defendant’s Silence at Trial
The prosecutor may lawfully use a defendant’s silence in response to questions against them if he was not in custody at the time of questioning. Unless the defendant invokes his right to remain silent or asks for counsel, his silence might become evidence in court.
Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent
In Salinas v Texas, a recent United States Supreme Court case, the court decided that the use at trial of the defendant’s silence during an interview when he was not in custody did not violate the Fifth Amendment. In this case, the defendant was not in custody and had not been given his Miranda warnings but voluntarily answered a police officer’s questions about a murder. The defendant did not answer questions when he was asked if his shotgun would match the shells recovered at the murder scene. He instead looked at the ground, shuffled his feet, bit his lip, and otherwise appeared nervous. When the officer asked additional questions, the defendant answered them.
At trial, the prosecutor argued that the defendant’s reaction to the officer’s questions suggested he was guilty of the murder. The defendant was convicted. On appeal, the defendant argued that the use of his silence was a violation of the Fifth Amendment, and his Motion to Suppress should have been granted.
The Court concluded that the defendant’s claim failed, and his silence could be used against him at trial because he did not expressly invoke the privilege in response to the officer’s question. No exception applied to excuse his failure to invoke the privilege.
Defense Attorney’s Experienced with Motions to Suppress Evidence
The attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have had decades of experience practicing exclusively criminal law. The criminal law can change, sometimes, daily. When you, or someone you love, are charged with a felony or misdemeanor and facing possible incarceration, it is essential that you have a legal team that is highly knowledgeable with constitutional law. Only the most experienced, respected attorneys can give you the best possible defense and fight to prevent the defendant’s silence from being used as evidence at trial.
Call us today at (248) 263-6800 for a free consultation or complete a Request for Assistance Form. We will contact you promptly and find a way to help you.