You do have the right to remain silent when North Carolina police detain or question you. However, as we have discussed in previous blog posts, you must invoke this right.
Staying silent during questioning will not automatically invoke these rights. So, what should you do?
First, understand them
The better you understand the rights you have, the better you can protect them – and yourself. Every U.S. resident should know the rights they have under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, particularly:
- Protection against self-incrimination, or your right to remain silent
- The right to consult an attorney, as well as have a representative present during an interrogation
These rights are some of the most important lines of defense if you face the risk of criminal charges.
Be clear about your invocation
There is no special phrase to use in order to invoke your Miranda rights. You must simply be clear and state that you are doing so out loud. Do not leave any room for confusion. There are many ways to invoke this right, including:
- Explicitly saying you will exercise your Miranda rights
- Stating you will not speak or answer any questions
- Saying you wish to speak with an attorney
In response, the police must stop all questioning and interrogation.
What if you are innocent?
It is tempting to defend yourself against false claims. This is especially true when police may ask questions that call your character into question. Even so, it is still a good idea to invoke your Miranda rights and remain silent. While the general rule states that you are “innocent until proven guilty,” it also remains true that “anything you say can and will be used against you.”
Regardless of whether or not you broke the law, it is important to remember this. Exercising your right to remain silent and seeking legal representation is an effective way to protect your rights if you face arrest.