skip to Main Content

Right to Remain Silent: Do Not Talk to the Police Without a Lawyer


You have the right to remain silent, which is also known as the right against self-incrimination.  In Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), the United States Supreme Court established “certain procedural safeguards that require police to advise criminal suspects of their rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments [to the United States Constitution] before commencing custodial interrogation.”  Duckworth v. Eagan, 492 U.S. 195 (1989).

You Should Not Talk to the Police or Answer Any Questions Without Consulting a Lawyer

If you have been contacted by the police or have recently been arrested, you should immediately seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney in South Carolina.  Contact us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

WATCH THIS VIDEO of a law professor who “tricked his students into lying” to prove why most people should never talk to the police without consulting a lawyer.

When Do the Police Have to Advise You of the Right to Remain Silent (i.e., read the Miranda Warnings to you)?

Miranda warnings are required prior to any police interrogation of a suspect in custody.  The word “interrogation” includes asking questions and any other actions that would likely elicit a response from the suspect.  The phrase “in custody” applies when a reasonable person in the suspect’s shoes would feel that he or she is not free to leave and terminate the police encounter.

The Miranda Court held: A suspect in custody “must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.”  Miranda, 384 U.S. at 479.

“Once warnings have been given, the subsequent procedure is clear.  If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior to or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease.”  Id. at 473-74.  Police officers are to “scrupulously honor” a suspect’s “right to cut off questioning.”  Michigan v. Mosley, 423 U.S. 96, 104 (1975).

To Invoke the Right to Remain Silent, You have to Speak.

Unfortunately, staying silent doesn’t invoke your right to remain silent.  If a suspect remains silent for a period of time, but later gives the police a statement, the statement is probably admissible. See Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010).

The United States Supreme Court recently held that a prosecutor can comment on a suspect’s silence in three situations. See Salinas v. Texas.  First, any statement made when the suspect is not in custody and has not been given Miranda warnings.  Second, any statement made when the suspect voluntarily submits to police questioning.  Finally, if the suspect stays silent without expressly invoking his right to remain silent.

How to Invoke Your Right to Remain Silent

Stay calm and politely inform the police officer that you are invoking the constitutional rights listed below.


  1. I am exercising my right to remain silent.
  2. I do not consent to a search of my person or property (Note: police officers can conduct pat-down searches for police officer safety and property searches based on exigent circumstances or a finding of probable cause).
  3. I do not consent to any test, lineup, or identification procedure (Note: pursuant to the Implied Consent law in South Carolina, refusal to submit a breath sample if you are charged with DUI will result in a six (6) month suspension of your driver’s license).
  4. I am not waiving any of my constitutional rights.
  5. I want to speak with a lawyer.
  6. I do not consent to any of these things without a lawyer present.

Jeffcoat Criminal Defense Lawyers
4723-A Sunset Blvd,
Lexington, SC 29072


WARNING: This Does Not Constitute Legal AdviceDo not rely on the accuracy of this information because laws are subject to change.  You are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney in any legal matter.  If you take action in your case without an attorney, it may negatively affect your legal rights.

DISCLAIMER:  This information does not create an attorney-client relationship.  The information provided in this document is not legal advice, cannot be cited as legal authority, and cannot replace the advice of an attorney in South Carolina.

Key Terms:

  • Arrest
  • Arrested
  • Miranda rights
  • Miranda warnings
  • In custody
  • Right to Remain Silent
  • Right against self-incrimination
  • Lexington County, South Carolina
  • Richland County, South Carolina
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • City of Columbia
  • Lexington, SC
  • Richland, SC
Michael Jeffcoat-Jeffcoat Firm founder and attorney



Michael R. Jeffcoat is a criminal defense attorney in South Carolina with over 2 decades of experience, our aggressive criminal defense legal team can help you with misdemeanor and felony offenses. Mr. Jeffcoat strives to keep all his clients informed at all stages of their case.

Awards &

Contact Us Today!


It's free to speak with us about your case.

Our Locations

Jeffcoat Criminal Defense Lawyers

1333 Main St #512,
Columbia, SC 29201

(803) 200-2000

! NOTICE ! No Legal Advice Intended. This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues problems.

Jeffcoat Criminal Defense Lawyers, 1333 Main St Suite 512, Columbia, SC 29201

Disclaimer | Privacy Policy

Back To Top