December 2010: The Magic Words--Part 2 of 3: "I choose to remain silent!"

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During any law enforcement encounter, it’s important to remember that officers are trained to gather information in a variety of ways. One method is to question you, and they will try any method they can to get you to talk. Under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, “No person shall be… compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself….”

It is your right to remain silent to keep from incriminating yourself in a criminal case. In order to protect your rights later, you must say:

I choose to remain silent.

It seems a little silly, but that’s what you must do. If you are in custody, it is your right to remain silent, and it’s best to exercise that right and, also, ask for an attorney. Law enforcement is great at gathering information and will use every trick in the book to get you to open your mouth. Assume that everything they’re telling you is a trick. Then use what you’ve learned and say:

I choose to remain silent

And, finally,REMAIN SILENT. Remember that they’re asking you questions because they need more information. It is not your responsibility to help them gather it. Exercising your right to remain silent may keep you from facing charges down the line.

Even if you have done nothing wrong and have nothing to hide, it is your right to remain silent. Flex your rights! For more information on how to deal with law enforcement, check out10 Rules for Dealing with Police

…and remember to keep ASA in the loop—after ANY law enforcement encounter, call our legal hotline at 510/251-1856 x304 or email legalsupport@safeaccessnow.org.

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