The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on Monday that if people remain silent before police officers read them their Miranda rights, then that silence can and will be held against them.
In the case of Salinas v. Texas, the final ruling says that suspects cannot simply be quiet, but must actually announce to authorities that they are invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, assuming they even know what those rights are.
According to TheAtlanticWire,com, Genovevo Salinas was brought into a police station in January 1993 to take photographs. During that time, Salinas was questioned by police without being read his Miranda rights.
Police officers did not read Salinas his Miranda rights because he was free to leave (which he may not have been aware of).
The cops asked Salinas questions and he answered them until asked if a shotgun from his house would match the shotgun shells at a 1992 murder scene.
Salinas became silent and that silence was then used against him in court when he was convicted.
Justices Alito, Kennedy, Thomas, Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts voted for this radical reinterpretation of the Miranda rights and the Fifth Amendment.
So if you remain silent, before your Miranda Rights are read, but fail to say you are doing so because of the Fifth Amendment, that silence can actually be presented as part of the court case against you.
In the dissenting opinion, Justice Breyer wrote: "But does it really mean that the suspect must use the exact words 'Fifth Amendment'? How can an individual who is not a lawyer know that these particular words are legally magic?"