Legal Blog

You Have the Right to Remain Silent – But You Better Speak Up

Author Clark & Noonan, LLC
Posted June 16, 2017
Category Criminal Defense

Wall New Jersey Criminal Defense Attorneys serving Monmouth County, Ocean County, Middlesex County and all surrounding NJ areas.


Posted: February 10, 2011

Let’s say there is a police officer asking you questions, telling you that you can only help yourself out if you start talking to them. You know you have a right to remain silent- if you just don’t say anything does the officer have to stop asking you questions?  By saying nothing haven’t you invoked your right to remain silent? After the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 1st, 2010 decision in Berguhis v. Thompkins, the answer, unfortunately, is no. The Court, in a narrowly split decision, once again has limited the protections against police abuse that are enshrined in your Miranda rights.

Essentially, the relevant facts in Thompkins are that Mr. Thompkins had been picked up by the police as a suspect in a shooting. After he was read his Miranda rights he sat quietly for two hours and forty-five minutes while the police asked him question after question. Eventually, the police guilted Mr. Thompkins into making an admission after asking him if he believed in God. At trial, this admission was a key piece of evidence securing his conviction.

What does this mean? As the newly minted Justice Sonia Sotomayor stated in her strongly worded dissent, your right of protection from police abuse has been turned “upside down.”  In order to protect your right not to have to speak to the police, you must speak to the police, even only if to tell them – I don’t want to talk to you, this interview is over! As counterintuitive as it seems, that’s what you now have to do to protect yourself.

Clark & Noonan, LLC is a full-service criminal defense law firm. Our attorneys are former prosecutors with more than 30 years of combined criminal trial experience. If you have been charged with a crime, or the police are looking to speak with you in connection with a criminal investigation, call our firm immediately for a free consultation at 732-333-3011.

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