Right to remain silent can be used against you in court

Right to remain silent can be used against you in court »Play Video
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Local defense attorneys reacted strongly to Monday's Supreme Court ruling in which the high court said that if you remain silent before police read you your Miranda rights, that silence can and will be used against you in court.

"To me, this ruling is an obscenity," said Bakersfield defense attorney Kyle Humphrey. "You don't even have the right not to talk to the police anymore, because it can be used and twisted against you if you're accused of a crime."

The 5-4 ruling comes in the case of Genovevo Salinas, a Texas man who was convicted of a 1992 murder. During police questioning, and before he was arrested or read his Miranda rights, Salinas answered some questions but did not answer when asked if a shotgun he had access to would match up with the murder weapon.

Prosecutors in Texas used his silence on that question in convicting him of murder, saying it helped demonstrate his guilt.

Salinas appealed, saying his Fifth Amendment rights to stay silent should have kept prosecutors from using his silence against him in court. Texas courts disagreed, saying pre-Miranda silence is not protected by the Constitution. The Supreme Court upheld that decision.

"I think it's a good ruling,' said Kern County Chief Deputy District Attorney Mark Pafford.

The prosecutor said he believes it's a pretty narrow application.

"I don't really anticipate having many cases that this is going to affect one way or the other," said Pafford.

Others vehemently disagree.

"The agents of the state always say, 'Oh, this isn't bad, this is good, trust us'" said attorney Michael Lukehart.

Both Lukehart and Humphrey agree the best thing to do when coming into contact with police is to explicitly invoke your right to remain silent by telling police you do not want to talk to them and retain an attorney.