While we were busy watching SCOTUS for the Voting Rights Act, Prop. 8 and DOMA, a bunch of other really troubling rulings came down. One of them was in the case of Salinas v. Texas where the justices ruled in a 5-4 decision that until your miranda rights are invoked or read to you, remaining silent can be used against you in court.
What this means? The 5th Amendment guarantees you the right to not incriminate yourself in a criminal matter. As a part of your miranda rights “you have the right to remain silent” is told to you when you are arrested. BUT let’s say you go down to the station voluntarily with police for questioning like Salinas did or you happen to be stopped by the police for looking suspicious and they ask you some questions about what you’re up to see if they will arrest you; until your Miranda rights are read to you, you do not have the right to remain silent unless you invoke it yourself. Being silent in a situation like any of the ones mentioned above can be offered as proof of guilt against you in court unless you specifically say something making it clear that you are invoking your right to remain silent.
How this may affect you? I bet most of you didn’t know that anything had changed. Enough said. And with the disproportionate and prejudicial number of stops and searches of Black and Brown people by police… Everyone needs to know their rights. God forbid, you are ever in a situation where you are stopped by police, but if you are you do not need to answer any questions, but you do need to say that you are remaining silent because you have a right to do so under the 5th amendment or something to that nature.
Know your rights peeps; knowledge is power.
For the entire decision, click here.