Before we get started, though, you need to know a few different things. First, traffic stops do not require Miranda warnings. Second, the Fifth Amendment does not allow you to refuse to give information about your identification. If an officer asks for your name, just give it to him. M’Kay? Finally, you must be in police custody before Miranda applies. If you are not in police custody, then you are free to leave. So leave!
Silence is not enough!
You must affirmatively assert your right to remain silent. You don’t have to be rude about it though! A simple, “I’m using my right to remain silent” will do. “I have nothing to say,” works well. So does, “I don’t want to talk to you anymore.”
Some people think that simply keeping their mouths shut will protect their rights. But the Supreme Court of the United States does not recognize silence as an assertion of that right. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. But it is what it is.
Once you tell the police that you wish to remain silent, you MUST. REMAIN. SILENT! Seriously, do not re-start the conversation. The police might be able to use your statements against you in court if you start talking after asserting your rights under Miranda.
No more questions allowed.
The police must stop talking to you when you use your rights. This rule, of course, has exceptions. If you only use your right to an attorney, the police must stop questioning until your attorney arrives. If you only use your right to remain silent, the police must respect that until you are released from custody and a certain amount of time passes.
Generally, the police must wait 14 days before they try to talk to you again.
When you assert your right to have an attorney, you must, again, affirmatively assert your right. Clearly, and calmly, tell the police that you will not answer any questions without an attorney.
Use your rights!
There is a natural tension in our criminal justice system between the police and the accused. It’s probably safe to bet that this tension will never go away either! But nobody wins with violence or yelling.
If you are arrested, do your best to remain calm and respectful. You want the officer to say in court that you were easy to work with. Good officer testimony makes you look reasonable. You’ll also look good to the judge and the jury. It’s called the long game, folks. You’ve got to think about the big picture.
Whatever you do though, never be afraid to use your rights. The Supreme Court of the United States requires them for a reason! Remember, if the government is going to lock you up, you are going to make it jump through every single hoop before it succeeds.