In the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling in Salinas vs. Texas, Chris Perri Law fears that the high court has whittled away the right to remain silent.
In Salinas, the Court ruled that the prosecution can use your pre-arrest silence against you at trial, thus watering down the essence of the Fifth Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination. In Salinas’ case, prior to being arrested, he voluntarily provided the police with information regarding a murder. However, when authorities asked if Salinas’ gun would match the murder weapon, Salinas refused to answer, under the assumption that he was exercising his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself. However, at his trial, the prosecution used his choice to remain silent as damning evidence of his guilt.
The Supreme Court reviewed this ruling, and although it was a close call, the Court ruled that the conviction should be upheld, stating that if individuals want to invoke the Fifth Amendment’s protection, they “must claim it”. Although the Fifth Amendment clearly states that no one can be forced to be a witness against him or herself in a criminal matter, the Court’s ruling means that the prosecution is free to use the defendant’s pre-arrest silence as evidence of guilt.
Chris Perri Law fears that in light of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling, the Fifth Amendment’s protection against self-incrimination has been vastly diluted. Basically, to claim the rights of this fundamental law, individuals must explicitly inform the authorities that they are invoking their Fifth Amendment right to silence upon being questioned by law enforcement. Chris Perri worries that this requirement especially hurts less educated individuals, who may not be aware of this new ruling. “It creates a further class divide in our system,” Chris Perri says.
In order to maintain your Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Chris Perri Law advises you to explicitly state that you’re invoking your Fifth Amendment right when the situation calls for it. Otherwise, your silence could come back to bite you.