In the ongoing fight to protect individual rights against government intrusion the pro government, pro-corporation controlled U.S Supreme Court continues to undermine the protection of Miranda rights. Even school children are familiar with the expansion of civil rights back in 1966 with the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda vs. Arizona. It was in that ruling that redirected police interrogation and made famous the words: “….you have the right to remain silent, and that anything you say may and will be used against you in a court of law…that you have a right to an attorney…or an attorney will be provided to you…”
Since the landmark decision, other decisions have expounded on the requirement to insure that the warning was “meaningful” and that some effort is required to insure the suspect understands his or her rights.
However, in the past ten years, the reconfigured Supreme Court has allowed a “watering down” of individual rights. In 2010, a divided Supreme Court ruled that police may interrogate suspects who ambiguously waive or invoke their rights and that statements that are made before the invocation of their rights is admissible.
This year, that same divided Supreme Court has further weakened the strength of Miranda Rights by putting into play what is considered a custodial interrogation that requires Miranda Rights and whether an individual’s silence can be used against him. In Salinas, the defendant was contacted and asked to come into the station for some questioning. The defense conceded that he was free to leave but submitted to questioning by the police until he was asked about a shot gun; at which time he “fell silent.”
At trial, the prosecution used his silence as an admission of guilt. On appeal, the defense asserted that the Defendant at a Fifth Amendment Right Against Incrimination and that his silence could not be used against him. The 5-4 Supreme Court ruling countered that where someone is not in police custody, they have an affirmative obligation to assert their Fifth Amendment. Justice Alito authored the decision that states: “Petitioner’s Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling will have chilling effects on individual’s rights: imagined a nervous but wrongfully accused suspect not knowing how to respond by police questioning and assuming that the police have to read him his Miranda rights and instead he has read them his rights.
More than ever, it is essential that you and your loved ones know their rights. In a time when and individual’s civil rights and protections are subject to change, it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. In the event that you have reason to believe that you or a loved one will be contacted by the police or are facing investigation or prosecution, speak to our experienced team to help protect your rights.