The United States Supreme Court has recently reviewed the laws pertaining to the Miranda Rights. The Supreme Court has loosened the restrictions of how the Miranda Rights are enforced. In Berghuis v. Thompkins, No. 08-1470, the Court held that once a suspect has been informed of his or her right to remain silent, he or she must affirmatively invoke those rights. A crime suspect’s words can be used against him if he or she fails to clearly tell police that he or she does not want to talk.
Prior to this decision, the court said the burden rests on the prosecution to show that a crime suspect had “knowingly and intelligently waived” his rights. Some police departments tell officers not to begin questioning until a suspect has waived his rights, usually by signing a waiver form.
In a 5-4 decision, the court shifted the balance in favor of the police, saying a suspect has a duty to speak up and say he does not want to talk.
The police are not required to obtain a waiver of the suspect’s right to remain silent before interrogating him. Some experts on police questioning said the court’s shift will have an immediate impact across the country.
In Thompkins, Van Thompkins, was arrested a year after the shooting of two men outside a mall in Southfield, Michigan. One of the men died from that incident.
A detective read Thompkins his rights, including the right to remain silent and to have a lawyer. Thompkins said he understood, but did not sign a form.
For about three hours, Thompkins stayed silent during the interrogation and said almost nothing in response to questions. The detective asked Thompkins if he believed in God and then asked: “Do you pray to God to forgive you for shooting that boy down?”
Thompkins says “Yes,” and looked away. He refused to sign a confession or to speak further, but he was convicted of first-degree murder, based largely on his one-word reply. The Supreme Court ruled that there was no evidence of Thompkins not understanding his rights, his answer to the question of praying indicated a waiver, and there was no evidence that the statement was coerced. The Court went further on to conclude that it is up to the defendant to indicate that they are invoking their rights to remain silent.
If you or a loved one is facing a criminal charge, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in fighting criminal charges for our clients. Our attorneys are always researching the constantly changing laws. This is one of the ways we provide the quality representation that you deserve. If you are arrested, you must know say you want to remain silent and to speak with your attorney. Call us at (888) 280-6839 or contact us through our website at www.wklaw.com. We will be there when you call.