Defend Your Rights: Silence Is Golden

Immortalized by the Disney animated film Bambi, the old adage that goes “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say nothing at all.” applies to to the self as well. It is, in fact, enshrined in the Constitution upon enforcing changes inducted by the Fifth Amendment.

Under the said amendment, the Bill of Rights was fortified to further ensure the protection of a civilian against abuse in a legal procedure. The aforementioned quote relates to the section that discusses in detail a person’s privilege against incriminating himself. By refusing to speak up and answer questions while under custody, a person will prevent himself from saying anything that could be used by prosecutors against him.

Suspects must be informed of their rights against self-incrimination prior to any interrogation conducted by law enforcers such as the police. The statement, often referred to as the Miranda Rights statement—after the celebrated 1966 Miranda v. Arizona Case—which states that the suspect has the right to remain silent, to seek legal representation, and to have access to a lawyer if he cannot afford it, must be fully understood by the suspect. In general, it is safer to claim one’s right to silence until a lawyer is provided for sound legal advice.

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