Lawyer Up! Use Your Right To Remain Silent
I Have A Right To Remain Silent!
We frequently encounter jurisdictions that conduct “interviews” with a suspect following an arrest. These interviews are carefully crafted checklists that gather incriminating statements related to the elements of the crime and further attempt to limit mitigating factors which your attorney may later wish to assert. You have the right to remain silent – use it!
The questions typically seek to establish that the suspect was “operating” the vehicle. Officers will also ask what the person had to eat and drink, when, where and how much. Medical issues, mental issues, eye health, and other questions seek to limit the suspect’s ability to later assert a defense to the clues of impairment noted by the officer. You have the right to remain silent – use it!
Really… Stay Silent!
Some interviews end with the ultimate question of the suspect’s sobriety, asking, “Do you feel you were impaired by alcohol?” or similar questions that go to the ultimate issue in the case. What is amazing is the number of people who willingly cooperate and answer damning questions. Doubly amazing is that every single “interview” we have ever seen begins by telling the suspect of their right to remain silent.
Your silence cannot be used against you, so lawyer up. Politely tell the officer that you will only answer questions if your attorney is present. In addition, our law is so protective of this right that the prosecutor is not allowed to mention your invocation of the right to silence at all. Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U.S. 610, 96 S.Ct. 2240, 49 L.Ed. 2d (1976); State v. Stephens, 24 Ohio St. 2d 76, 53 Ohio Op.2d 182, 263 N.E.2d 773 (1970). The prosecutor cannot remark about your silence in his closing, State v. Reed, 23 Ohio App.3d 119, 491 N.E.2d 723 (1st Dist. Hamilton County 1985), nor can he use it against you even if you choose to testify at trial. State v. Stephens, 24 Ohio St. 2d 76, 53 Ohio Op.2d 182, 263 N.E.2d 773 (1970).
Your attorney will file a motion in limine prior to the trial to prevent the prosecutor from addressing your silence after questioning. However, the protection is waived if you sign a Miranda waiver form and answer the officer’s questions. By remaining silent you give yourself an incredibly enhanced chance of winning your case.
If you have questions about your right to remain silent, contact Charles M. Rowland II at (937) 318-1384.