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What is my right to remain silent?

Every human being in the United States has the right to remain silent. The right to remain silent, also known as your "Miranda Rights," refers to your ability to refrain from speaking, and thereby refrain from unintentionally incriminating yourself when you're interacting with a police officer. Although you have this right, however, you may need to invoke your Miranda rights directly by stating, "I am exercising my right to remain silent."

You may want to specifically invoke your right to remain silent when approached by police depending on your circumstances because -- in some cases -- police might try to interpret your body language as incriminating. You may also want to ask to speak with a lawyer when you invoke your Miranda rights.

The right to remain silent stems from the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which states that "no person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." By virtue of the Fifth Amendment, you can stay completely silent during your trial proceedings, and you do not need to give any kind of testimony. In fact, you can simply show up at court, keep your mouth shut and watch how the proceedings unfold. In these kinds of court proceeding, the prosecution will have the responsibility to prove that you committed a crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

The right to remain silent also means that prosecutors cannot use your silence against you during your trial proceedings. They cannot criticize you or draw attention to the fact that you have chosen not to speak.

Do you have questions about your right to remain silent? You may want to learn more about this important civil right. A complete understanding of this and other civil rights could help you navigate your legal proceedings.

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