Most people are aware that the Constitution gives criminal suspects the right to remain silent or to refuse to speak to the police. When a suspect tells the police “I’m not saying anything” or “I’m finished talking,” he’s invoking his constitutional rights. What you may not immediately realize, however, is that the protections related to this right don’t end at the police station. It also can play a role in your criminal trial, as well. This right limits what you have to say, and also restricts what the prosecution can say about your silence. Whether you’re facing questions from a police detective or are standing trial, one of the best ways to protect yourself and your rights is to have an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer by your side.
Your constitutional rights give you the prerogative to refuse to talk to the police or to talk for a while and then refuse to say anything more. They also allow you to refuse to testify at your trial. What’s more, though, these rights also prohibit the prosecutor from implying or flat-out telling the jury that your utilizing your right of silence is a sign of your guilt.
That right took center stage in a recent appeal of a Baltimore man’s murder conviction. The defendant, M.A., was on trial for the brutal murder of his longtime girlfriend. The suspect told Baltimore Homicide detectives that he had been out walking his dog and had returned to find the woman covered in blood. Once the police continued pressing M.A., he stated that he wasn’t “going to answer no more questions. I told you what happened, and I’m going to shut my mouth.”