Refusing to answer questions by the police – Tell them why at the beginning


In 2013, the Supreme Court in the case of Salinas v. Texas, 133 S.Ct. 2174 (2013), decided that the Fifth Amendment did apply to pre-arrest, pre-charge questioning of someone suspected of committing a crime. The court further stated that if someone being investigated of a crime must specifically say that they are exercising their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Just sitting there silently is no longer enough. Sitting there silently or answering some questions while not answering others can now be used against you as evidence of your guilt.

In the Salinas case, two people were shot and killed. The police recovered shotgun shell casings where the killings occurred. Salinas was suspected by the police of being involved and, when approached by the police, he voluntarily agreed to go with the police to the police station and answer questions.

During the questioning, Salinas was not under arrest and was free to leave, which, under the law, meant that Miranda rights were not required to be given. Salinas answered many of the officer’s questions but when asked if the shotgun shells found at the scene would match his shotgun, he stayed silent. He then went on to answer additional questions. His silence in response to the shotgun shell question was used against him at the trial in which he was convicted. The Supreme Court said this was acceptable.

So, what should you do to make sure you are protected in the face of police questioning? Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Gary Cole advises that people should always refuse to answer police questions without an attorney being present. If police have enough information to arrest you, they will do it without any statement from you. If you are approached by the police, let them know that you are refusing to answer questions based on your Fifth Amendment privilege.  No additional words or needed. Many officers will try to get you to talk by saying something to the effect that if you did not do anything wrong, you should answer their questions.  Don’t fall for that trap.

Once you say the words, “I am refusing to answer questions based on my Fifth Amendment privilege”, you are under no obligation to provide any further explanation. And, once you use those words, “I am refusing to answer questions based on my Fifth Amendment privilege” ask if you are free to leave. If so, leave immediately and contact Fort Lauderdale Criminal Attorney Gary Cole.

This website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The information is not provided in the course of an attorney-client relationship and is not intended to substitute for legal advice from an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction.



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