Speak up and tell the police you want to remain silent and want a lawyer

The United States Supreme Court decided Berghuis v. Thompkins June 1, 2010.  Thompkins was suspected of shooting another individual.  In this case the police advised Thompkins of his Miranda rights and he did not respond but instead remained silent.  At no point did Thompkins say that he wanted to remain silent, that he did not want to talk with the police, or that he wanted an attorney. He was largely silent during the 3-hour interrogation, but near the end, he answered “yes” when asked if he prayed to God to forgive him for the shooting. Thompkins moved to suppress his statements, claiming that he had invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, that he had not waived that right, and that his inculpatory statements were involuntary. The Court ruled that Thompkins’ silence during the interrogation did not invoke his right to remain silent.  The majority opinion stated a suspect’s Miranda right to counsel must be invoked “unambiguously.” If the accused makes an “ambiguous or equivocal” statement or no statement, the police are not required to end the interrogation or ask questions to clarify the accused’s intent.  Had Thompkins said that he wanted to remain silent or that he did not want to talk, he would have invoked his right to end the questioning.

At the end of the Miranda warning the police ask suspects (in this case Thompkins) if they want to waive their rights and speak to them.  Thompkins did not respond to this but remained silent.  The Court ruled that Thompkins waived his right to remain silent when he knowingly and voluntarily made a statement to police — “yes” to the question if he prayed to God to forgive him for the shooting.  The Court ruled that waiver of your Miranda rights may be “implied” through your silence. If the State establishes that a Miranda warning was given and that it was understood by you, then your uncoerced statement establishes an implied waiver.

If the police read you the Miranda warnings you must speak up and tell them you do not want to talk with them and that you want a lawyer.  At the first chance you get call an experience criminal defense lawyer. 

Previous post:

Next post: