Supreme Court Rules that Silence Can be Used of Evidence of Guilt

Recently, the Supreme Court of the United States came to a groundbreaking decision about the right to remain silent. According to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, suspects have protection against self-incrimination in criminal trials. Now, the Supreme Court has agreed that in some circumstances, silence can be used as an evidence of guilt in criminal trials.

This issue became a point of debate in the recent case Salinas vs. Texas where a man was brought into a local police station to discuss the murder of two brothers. During his interview, the police asked this man if his shotgun shells would match the shotgun shells that were found at the scene of the double murder. At this time, the man who had been cooperative became silent, started shuffling his feet, and refused to answer any other questions.

Because of his sudden silence, the police arrested the man, and he was eventually convicted of the murder of two brothers in the state of Texas. The defendant's lawyer appealed the case, saying that his silence was used as an evidence of guilty in contradiction to the protections in the Fifth Amendment. The case made it all the way to the Supreme Court, where justices ruled that before an individual's arrest and before the suspect is read his or her Miranda Rights, the police can use silence as an admission of guilt.

The police can only use silence as evidence in their case if the silence is prior to any arrest. For example, the defendant in this double-murder case was in for an interview and had not been formally arrested or even suspected of the murder at the time of the incident. If you have been arrested for any crime and your silence is being used against you, you will want to make sure that the prosecution is treating your Fifth Amendment rights fairly. Talk to a Tampa criminal defense attorney at Thomas & Paulk today if you want more information!