You have probably watched television shows and movies where you’ve heard the police read people their Miranda Rights. As a part of those rights, you often hear them say that a person has the right to remain silent.
Is it necessary to stay silent during a traffic stop or when interacting with the police? Some don’t think it is, but the truth is that your right to remain silent is a necessary protection given to you by the Constitution.
It is important for you to use the right to remain silent, because staying quiet may help you better protect yourself when you’re under arrest. Even if you are detained, arrested or jailed, you have the right to refuse to speak with the police until you have your attorney present.
Can anyone force you to speak when you don’t want to talk?
Generally speaking, the only person who can order you to answer any questions regarding your case is a judge. If you are not before a judge, then you do not have to answer any questions or make statements regarding your case.
Even in the case that a judge orders you to answer a question, you have Fifth Amendment rights that protect you against saying anything that is self-incriminating.
If you don’t want to speak with the police or don’t want to say something incriminating, you can state that you are taking your Fifth Amendment rights. However, you may be compelled to answer some basic questions about your identity. For example, if you’re stopped by the police while driving and an officer asks you what your name is, you would be legally required to provide identification. The same may not be true if you’re stopped while walking, however.
You deserve to know your rights and to protect your best interests
As you can tell, the Fifth Amendment and your rights can be a complex topic. If you are stopped or arrested, it may be a good idea to learn more about it and to look into the legal rights you have before you speak with anyone other than your attorney.