Supreme Court: Suspects must say they want to be silent
June 1, 2010
The Supreme Court says suspects must explicitly tell police they want to be silent to invoke their Miranda protection during interrogations.
A right to remain silent and a right to a lawyer are the first of the Miranda rights warnings, which police recite to suspects during arrests and interrogations. But the justices said Tuesday suspects must tell police they are going to remain silent to stop an interrogation, just as they must tell police that they want a lawyer.
The ruling comes in a case where a suspect remained mostly silent for a three-hour police interrogation before implicating himself in a murder. He appealed his conviction, saying that he invoked his Miranda right to remain silent by remaining silent.
For more information about the case, read the New York Times reportage.
In the wake of this week’s SCOTUS ruling, NORML recommends all cannabis consumers download and possess NORML’s ‘Freedom Card’ to present to law enforcement during any interaction where police may seek a criminal charge.
Forewarned is forearmed: In the face of a Supreme Court decision that appears to favor the government over citizens, citizens must assert their constitutional rights to maximize legal protections against the government.
Partial text of the card
THE NORML FOUNDATION FREEDOM CARD
The U.S. Constitution prohibits the government from interfering with your right to remain silent, to consult with an attorney, and to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. However, it is up to you to assert these rights. This NORML Foundation Freedom Card will help you do so effectively.
If you are confronted by a police officer, remain calm. Be courteous and provide your identification. Politely refuse to answer any further questions. Ask to talk to an attorney. Do not consent to any search of your person, your property, your residence or your vehicle. Tell the officer you would like to give him or her this card, which is a statement of the constitutional rights you wish to invoke. Do not reach for this card until you have obtained the officer’s permission to do so.
If the officer fails to honor your rights, remain calm and polite, ask for the officer’s identifying information and ask him or her to note your objection in the report. Do not attempt to physically resist an unlawful arrest, search or seizure. If necessary, you may point out the violations to a judge at a later time.
THE NORML FOUNDATION
1600 K Street, NW, Suite 501
Washington, DC 20006-2832
www.norml.org / 202-483-5500