SCOTUS: Silence Can Be Evidence of Guilt

Crime suspects need to speak up if they want to invoke their legal right to remain silent, the Supreme Court said June 17 in a ruling that highlights the limited reach of the famous Miranda decision.

The 5-4 ruling upheld the murder conviction of a Texas man who bit his lip and sat silently when a police officer asked him about the shotgun shells that were found at the scene of a double slaying. They had been traced to the suspect’s shotgun.

At his trial, prosecutors pointed to the defendant’s silence as evidence of his guilt. In affirming the conviction of Genovevo Salinas, the court’s majority admitted that some suspects might think they had a right to say nothing.

“Popular misconceptions notwithstanding,” the Constitution “does not establish an unqualified ‘right to remain silent,’” said Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

Read the full Los Angeles Times story.

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