The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” This phrasal component of the Fifth Amendment gives rise to the “right to remain silent,” which has become an integral part of Miranda warnings given to arrestees.  

Miranda warnings must be given to any person who is under arrest before statements made pursuant to police questioning can be used in court. This concept arose in the deciding of one of the most famous cases of all time, Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436, and asserts that a citizen must be aware of his Fifth Amendment rights before these rights can have any practical effect. Indeed, any statements made after arrest but before (or without) a Miranda warning are unconstitutional, and therefore inadmissible in court.

Invocation of Sixth Amendment rights ceases questioning

Once an arrestee invokes his Sixth Amendment rights to counsel, any subsequent questioning and resultant statements made will be inadmissible in court, unless the arrestee rescinds this invocation.

Voluntariness of statement as necessary element

The most basic element necessary for a statement to be admitted as evidence in court is that it was made voluntarily. The opposite of voluntariness is coercion, which can take effect in many different ways, including physical harm, threats of physical harm, promises, and deceit. The voluntariness of a statement will be judged by the court by examining the totality of the circumstances. This means that every available relevant fact will be used to determine whether the statement was the result of the free will of a rational intellect, or whether the free will was supplanted with one of the above tactics.

Fourteenth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment provides that “[n]o state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

The effect of the Fourteenth Amendment is to cement the force of the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

Unsolicited statements

Unsolicited statements are those that are made with no prompting from police. Statements of this kind are always admissible in court as evidence, regardless of previous invocations of rights or the stage of criminal proceedings at which they are made. A wise and informed arrestee will never make such statements.

Get Legal representation

If you or a loved one made statements to the police that involve noncompliance with the Miranda rule, physical coercion, promises, deceit, or a combination of these, the Constitution forbids them from being used against you in court. Ensure that your Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights are enforced and that they take full effect to protect you from coercive statements. Contact the criminal defense attorneys at The Nahajski Firm at (206) 621-0500 for a free and confidential initial consultation.