Before officers may question you in a criminal investigation, they typically must advise you of your Miranda rights. With a name that comes from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case, these rights include your right to have an attorney present during major parts of the criminal process and your right to remain silent during a police questioning.
Exercising your right to remain silent may be smart for at least three reasons.
1. You cannot incriminate yourself
Even if you believe you have done nothing wrong, you may inadvertently say something incriminating during an interrogation. Remember, prosecutors may use anything you tell officers against you to secure a conviction. By staying silent, you force officers and prosecutors to build their case without your help.
2. You can think about your answers
There may be some good reasons to cooperate with a police interrogation. Still, you may not be able to predict the consequences of your words. By invoking your right to remain silent, you have time to think about your answers. You also have time to consult with an attorney.
3. Officers have an unfair advantage
Detectives and other officers typically receive extensive training in interrogation techniques. You, by contrast, may not understand the methods officers use to gain incriminating information and other useful details. Put simply, to level the playing field, you may want to stay silent at least until you have legal counsel.
Despite what officers may tell you, talking is usually riskier than remaining silent. Ultimately, because officers may not infer guilt from your invoking your legal rights, staying quiet during police questioning may be an important part of your defense strategy.