Miranda Rights - KOTA Territory News

Miranda Rights



Gary Jensen
Beardsley, Jensen and Von Wald

If you find yourself being read your Miranda Rights and want to maintain your right to remain silent, you must clearly tell the interrogating law enforcement that you are exercising your right to remain silent (or remain silent).

Be direct - say this - I am exercising my right to remain silent and then remain silent except to request that you be allowed to call your lawyer.      

If officers continue to talk with you or ask questions, say nothing – except to repeat that you are exercising your right to remain silent and want to call your lawyer.          

In a recent 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an assertion of one's right to remain silent must be "unambiguous" or it will be deemed waived.  Law enforcement is not required to end an interrogation or ask questions to clarify intentions if the statement made by the "suspect" is "ambiguous or equivocal" or if no statement has been made. 

In other words, if you do not "unambiguously" state that you are maintaining your right to remain silent, it's likely that you will be deemed to have waived your right to remain silent and what you say will be used against you. 

You can read the details of Berghuis v. Thompkins, No. 08-1470, June 1, 2010, on the website for the United States Supreme Court .  The suspect was read his Miranda Rights.  He remained "largely silent" for the three-hour interrogation.  He did not say that he wanted to exercise his right to remain silent or call his lawyer.  Toward the end of the interrogation, the interrogator asked if the suspect prayed to God to forgive him for shooting down the boy, and the suspect answered, "Yes."  He was charged with a variety of crimes, including first degree murder.  He was convicted by a jury and the Supreme Court upheld the convictions.

The Court's decision has been controversial, though the lesson to be learned for the moment is clear.  Should you find yourself having your Miranda Rights being read to you, say this - I am exercising my right to remain silent, and want to call my lawyer now.  Then, remain silent until your lawyer arrives.  

E-mail Gary


Lawline@KOTATV.com is intended as general information on legal issues affecting us all.  This information should not be relied upon in any particular case and should never be used in lieu of consulting with an attorney.


1.      You see yet another car accident at a spot where there have been many accidents in the past and will be more accidents in the future? 


2.      You learn another person is hurt using a machine that has injured others in the past and will injure others in the future? 


3.      You watch a dangerous practice – like where a school bus parks – you know is a disaster waiting to happen?  


What should you do? 


Try to prevent the next accident, injury, and catastrophe from happening. 


How can you do that? 


Send a letter or email to those responsible – the highway department, the owner and operator of the machine, the school district - putting them on notice of the danger.


Your letter or email will either prompt a "fix" or help the next innocent victim establish liability against those who failed to act.   


Taking a few minutes to write a letter or email can have a huge impact; you can be a difference maker. 

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