If Baton Rouge police suspect you of a crime, you may decide not to speak to them about it. After all, you have the right to remain silent according to the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Miranda Rights.

Yes, you do have that right, but what many people don’t understand is that simply staying quiet is not enough to gain the protections of this Constitutional right.

So, what are you supposed to do?

You must expressly invoke your right to remain silent. Otherwise, you could unwittingly waive this right. According to the U.S. Supreme Court, you do not have to remember any “magic words” in order for authorities to understand you don’t want to speak to them. The key is to make sure you do it and aren’t ambiguous about it. You could use affirmative statements such as the following to make it clear:

  • I am exercising my right to remain silent.
  • I am exercising my Miranda right to remain silent.
  • I want to speak to my attorney first.
  • I will only speak to my attorney.
  • I want to remain silent.

The above statements leave nothing to the imagination, unlike the following statements, which leave doubt about your intentions:

  • I don’t think I should say anything.
  • I think I want an attorney.
  • I may want to talk to an attorney first.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t say anything.

These are just some examples of how you may not get your point across. Avoid using vague language such as in the above statements in order to make it perfectly clear that you are invoking your right to remain silent.

Could you accidentally waive your rights later?

Even if you make it clear that you do not want to answer any questions, you could accidentally waive your rights later. You may have waived your right to remain silent if you began answering questions or talking to police at any time thereafter. Anything you say at this point could end up as evidence against you. The better practice is to stay quiet until your attorney arrives. Otherwise, you may inadvertently incriminate yourself.

You should know that you do not have to wait until you are under arrest to invoke this right. You can do so from the moment police approach you about their suspicions. Doing so may not keep police from arresting you, but at least you aren’t providing probable cause for the arrest or evidence for the court. In addition to invoking your right to remain silent, you may want to take advantage of your right to an attorney as soon as possible.