During the course of any criminal investigation, detectives often want to speak to as many relevant witnesses as possible. Sometimes, individuals who have little or nothing to do with the underlying investigation end up incriminating themselves in the matter or a separate one.
Before questioning you, officers typically must advise you of your constitutional right not to incriminate yourself. In addition to having the right to have an attorney present during questioning, you have a right to remain silent. Invoking this right, though, is not always easy.
Practice makes perfect
Even if you have done nothing wrong, you are at a disadvantage during a custodial interrogation. After all, detectives receive extensive training on eliciting information from suspects and others. Because police questioning can be intimidating, you may want to practice exercising your right to remain silent before you walk into the interrogation room.
Clear and concise language is key
When invoking your right to remain silent, you must be as clear and concise as possible. There is no reason to be fancy or evasive, however. Simply telling officers you choose to remain silent is likely to get the job done. Alternatively, if you specifically ask for an attorney, officers should stop questioning you until one arrives to provide legal counsel.
You must stop talking
In a famous murder case in Kentucky, the suspect invoked her right to remain silent and asked for an attorney. She did not, however, stop talking. Even though officers stopped asking questions, the suspect continued to talk for more than two hours. Unsurprisingly, prosecutors used incriminating statements against the suspect to secure a conviction at trial.
To avoid waiving your right to remain silent, you must make no statements after invoking the right. After carefully considering your options, you and your attorney can decide whether you ultimately cooperate with the investigation.