Supreme Court Rules Suspects Must Speak Up to Remain Silent

On June 1, based on a U.S. Supreme Court Media report, the U.S. Supreme Court released its ruling in Berghuis v. Thompkins. The ruling states that criminal suspects who want to exercise the “right to remain silent” promised to them by Miranda v. Arizona, must speak up and clearly inform the police of their intention to stay silent. Merely staying silent through a long questioning session is not enough for the right to stick.

The case involved a defendant, Thompkins, who was arrested for allegedly shooting another person. Police informed him of his right to remain silent, and then questioned him for nearly three hours. During these three hours, Thompkins said nothing. Only at the end of the three hours, when the police asked Thompkins whether he prayed that God would forgive him “for shooting that boy,” did Thompkins whisper, “Yes.” This answer was used against him at trial.

For many years, the Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v. Arizona stated that police could not assume suspects had given up their right to remain silent unless the suspect made it clear he or she wanted to talk. In Berghuis, however, the Supreme Court held that police could assume suspects had given up their right to remain silent unless the suspect stated clearly that he or she wanted to keep silent.

In dissent, Justice Sotomayor said, “Today’s decision turns Miranda upside down. Criminal suspects must now unambiguously invoke their right to remain silent-which, counterintuitively, requires them to speak.”

Being accused of a crime can be an overwhelming process in which an arrested individual may not be fully aware of his or her legal rights. If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Colorado, contact an experienced Colorado defense attorney as soon as possible. A Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer will make sure your rights are fully protected and fight to win you the best possible outcome. Contact aggressive and skilled attorney, Timothy Bussey, today at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. Call 719-475-2555 for a free and confidential consultation and to learn more about your legal rights.

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