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Speak up if you want to remain silent

The Supreme Court voted 5-4 to water down Miranda just a little bit more in Berghuis v. Thompkins.

Here’s how it used to work…

  1. Police inform you of the right to remain silent.
  2. You remain silent.
  3. Police must stop questioning you.

Here’s how it works with the new ruling…

  1. Police inform you of the right to remain silent.
  2. You remain silent.
  3. Police keep questioning you for hours if they wish and if you finally break down or get frustrated and say something, that can be used against you.
  4. If you unambiguously inform police that you wish to observe your right to remain silent (other than just remaining silent), then questioning must stop.

So the ironic thing is, in order to get them to shut up, you must speak up to say that you want to remain silent.

It makes it all the more critical that people understand their rights, and learn the simple phrases that are so well presented in FlexYourRights.org’s excellent video: 10 Rules for Dealing with Police:

  • I don’t consent to searches
  • I’m going to remain silent. I’d like to see a lawyer.
  • Are you detaining me or am I free to go?
  • I can’t let you in without a warrant.
[Via TalkLeft]

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9 comments to Speak up if you want to remain silent

  • Duncan

    Rather than saying I’m remaining silent, the phrase ‘standing mute’ has more force in a legal setting. I used the phrase once when a cop asked me my name. It was amazing how he fish mouthed, turned away and left me alone. Yeah, I still got busted that day but I beat the wrap because they had to go get a search warrant. Perfectly good probable cause, I don’t know why the cop told such a bald faced, provable lie when he went before the magistrate. But there I was, with two EMTs and a hotel desk clerk to testify that he was lying through his teeth, as well as a log entry into the hotel’s incident report log made by the desk clerk at the time of the incident. It didn’t even get to a suppression hearing because they screwed the pooch so badly, just went nolle prosequi when the prosecutor looked at the facts. BTW folks, remember, cocaine is truly evil shit. But that was the 1980s.

    Another magic phrase is ‘I have an expectation of privacy’ when turning down the opportunity to be searched by LE. If you don’t use the phrase and go to a suppression hearing they’ll be arguing ad nauseum about whether you thought you had such expectation, and using it just cuts that discussion off at the knees. Of course it won’t work on the public nude beach or other venue where only a psychotic would truly believe he had such expectation, but it’s amazing how far that phrase can go in a borderline situation if uttered at the right moment.

    Yes, sometimes it’s better to utter the correct magic words, and then shut up.

  • Just me.

    Sounds like more word twisting to me. Like Bill Clinton trying to redefine what the word is …is. What the words” remain silent” means with extreme pressuring.

    Oh and…Alqedas Number 3 guy is dead…again. One more job opening…again.

  • Jared

    Here we are again… the government is extending the gulf between the educated and bold, and the uneducated and victimized. More and more laws are passed, public education and media coverage nil, and officials lying constantly in order to deprive you of your rights. It feels now, more than ever, that the government truly is waging war on it’s own constituents, the people it so promises to help protect.

    I’ve been in the International Baccalaureate program in high school, essentially an advanced learning regimen, but they never once mentioned using our rights to pragmatically remove ourselves from possible legal harm. I know the majority of Americans have little working knowledge of their rights, and these acts of further weakening our own system of legislature makes it more difficult for the “common rabble” to know what to do! If you’re faced with a scary man screaming at you, threatening you, reasoning with you, and intimidating you all at once for hours on end, how can you contend? One way or another, if you don’t know how to conduct yourself, you’ll crack. It’s important, now more than ever, to know your rights — and flex ’em!

    [Thank you for providing such comprehensive and accessible coverage of the issues within the Drug War, Pete. I’ll tell you, it’s tough to start learning what the government doesn’t want you to know, and I found it was much easier with the help of DWR and it’s affiliates. You analyze the rhetoric and explore stories from a variety of sources. I very much appreciate it.]

  • DavesNotHere

    If a human being has been informed of their right to remain silent and they remain silent for an additional arbitrary ten minutes after informed of their right to remain silent while the police authorities continue to question them, it should be common sense and safe to assume the person being questioned is remaining silent. To pull an arbitrary time out of my butt, ten minutes of silence after being informed they can remain silent should be sufficenet to make the authroties leave them alone until they can speak to private legal counsel.

    Fuck the US Supreme Court. And fuck the Republicans and Democrats who put these perverts on the US Supreme Court.

    Pardon my french, please. Jared, your comment is encouraging, thank you.

    Google “Jon Burge” for some info about what the questioning can look like after ten minutes in police custody. Torture, in Chicago, on American citizens.

    The Supreme Court is just covering up what has already been done by Chicago Democrats and Bush administration Republicans.

  • claygooding

    There is another rule for encounters with police and it is a simple phrase to remember,”I don’t remember”,use it for everything they ask you.

  • Nick

    Thanks Pete.
    I’ll definitely pass this on.

  • Just me.

    Thanks to all who post here and you Pete, thanks.

    Its important to know we have rights. Its the criminals politicians that are the biggest threat to them. Fire them all.

  • truthtechnician

    “You can’t come in here without a warrant.” This one cracks me up to no end.

    Here’s how it actually works in real life:
    Police knock on your door. Don’t have a warrant. You tell them not to enter. They enter anyway. They find illegal drugs. They then give you a choice: Take a plea bargain and accept guilt, or risk serious jailtime and fight this based on the illegal search. Even if your lawyer says you have a 90% chance at beating the illegal search in trial, most people would still not risk the jail time. It also costs a lot more for the lawyer to fight this.

    So, 96%+ take the plea bargain.

  • truthtechnician

    My point being that telling police not to search without a warrant will do nothing to stop it from happening. For an individual this information is useful, but on the whole this information can only do you so much good. Almost always, it is not practical to fight the illegal search in court. This is the problem. The way the justice system uses plea bargains and jail time to threaten and intimidate people into accepting guilt.

    This information is good for people to know. However, as long as illegal searches net results, and there are no repercussions for police, things will not change.