How to Invoke Your Right To Remain Silent in Pennsylvania and Get an Attorney
In Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the United States, you have the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This right is also referred to as the right to avoid self-incrimination. You also have the right to legal representation from Pittsburgh criminal defense advocates of your choice.
Steps to Take to Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent
If you wish to invoke your right to remain silent, here are the steps to follow:
Clearly State Your Intent
When you are being questioned by law enforcement or any other authority, it is important to clearly and unequivocally state your intention to remain silent. You can say something like, "I wish to remain silent," "I'm invoking my right to remain silent," or "I do not want to answer any questions."
After invoking your right to remain silent, it is important that you remain silent. Do not answer any questions, provide information, or make any statements to law enforcement or other authorities. Your right to remain silent means you do not have to provide self-incriminating information.
Do Not Be Persuaded or Coerced
Sometimes, law enforcement may attempt to persuade or pressure you into talking. You have the right to stand firm in your decision to remain silent. Politely, but firmly, reiterate that you are invoking your right to remain silent.
Request Legal Representation
In addition to invoking your right to remain silent, you can request an attorney. You can say something like, "I want a lawyer." Once you request an attorney, law enforcement should cease questioning you until your attorney is present.
Document the Invocation
It can be helpful to create a record of your invocation of the right to remain silent. If possible, do so in writing. This can be especially important if there is a dispute about whether you invoked your rights.
Be Mindful of Your Actions
While remaining silent is your right, be aware that your actions can also be used as evidence. Be cautious about non-verbal actions that could be interpreted as admissions of guilt.
Your Right to Remain Silent Under the Fifth Amendment
The right to remain silent is a fundamental legal protection granted under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. This amendment states, in part: "No person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Key aspects of the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment include:
The requirement for law enforcement to inform individuals of their right to remain silent is based on the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona (1966). The Miranda warnings, often recited by police during interrogations, include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, and the warning that anything said can be used against the individual in court.
Protection Against Self-Incrimination
The Fifth Amendment safeguards individuals from being forced to provide testimony or evidence that could incriminate them in a criminal case. This protection applies not only to testimonial evidence (spoken or written statements) but also to certain non-testimonial acts that could be incriminating.
Applies in Various Settings
The right to remain silent is not limited to courtroom proceedings. It applies whenever an individual is compelled to provide potentially self-incriminating information or testimony, including during police interrogations, a DUI stop, or court hearings.
Your Right to Legal Counsel in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, as in the rest of the United States, individuals have the right to legal counsel, which is protected by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The right to legal counsel applies primarily in criminal cases, including arrests, investigations, trials, and appeals. If you are facing criminal charges, you have the right to be represented by an attorney at every critical stage of the process.
In non-indigent cases (where you can afford your attorney), you have the right to choose your legal counsel. You can hire a private attorney or be represented by a public defender if you qualify for one.
Get A Skilled and Experienced Pittsburgh Criminal Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights
If you find yourself in need of criminal defense attorneys in Pittsburgh, turn to Very Law. Led by proven and experienced criminal defense lawyer Ryan Very, our legal team is committed to providing aggressive advocacy and robust defense for individuals facing criminal charges.
Whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a serious felony, we are here to fight for the best possible outcome. Call Very Law at 412.430.0131 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation and secure the strongest possible defense you deserve. Your future is worth protecting, and we are here to help you every step of the way.
Think you may have a case? Let’s talk.