Attorney Heath D. Harte issued a statement today about Miranda Rights in the wake of a story out of Denver, where, according to reports, a man charged with murder had his conviction overturned due to a lapse by police who failed to properly mirandize him.
According to a report from the Denver Post (Saudi man’s murder conviction in Denver overturned on Miranda lapse, 1/22/2014), a federal judge overturned the 2004 conviction of a Denver man who was charged with murder after ruling that officers had failed to properly inform him of his right to remain silent.
According to the report, police took only 18 seconds to read the man his Miranda rights.
In light of the news, Heath D. Harte issued a statement about an individual’s right to remain silent.
“The case in this report displays a regrettable lapse in duty by the officers involved, but gives us an opportunity to teach a valuable lesson about a tenet of the Miranda Rights that is often misunderstood,” said Harte. “In order to invoke the right to say nothing, an interviewee must explicitly state that they are not speaking because they are invoking their right to silence. Otherwise, pursuant to Salinsa v. Texas, (133 S. Ct. 2174 (2013)), their silence could be interpreted as an admission of guilt.”
According to the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, American citizens have the privilege against self-incrimination, which includes the option of saying nothing when arrested as a criminal suspect. Also known as, the Miranda Rights, the Fifth Amendment triggered the decision that officers must tell arrestees that:
“Officers must recite the Miranda Rights when they interrogate someone they consider to be in custody,” said Harte. “Interrogation can include anything, words or actions, which police officers use to elicit an incriminating response from a suspect. In addition, “in custody” means that a reasonable person would not feel free to leave in that situation.”
“Law enforcement officers have a responsibility to follow proper procedure when reading a suspect their rights, but the potential for a misstep on their part does not mean that people should be ignorant of their rights,” said Harte. “Failing to verbalize your intention to remain silent could wind up very badly for you if you find yourself in the wrong situation.”
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