Long Island Criminal Lawyer – Miranda Changes Explained

I am often asked during the course of my Long Island Criminal Law
practice what should clients do when they are being questioned by the
police. My advice to those clients has always been quite simply “shut
up”. When given your Miranda warnings and you are told that you have the
right to remain silent, BELIEVE IT AND DO IT. Silence was golden.
However, in light of the recent Supreme Court case known as Berghuis v.
Thompkins, that advice has to change somewhat.
The Supreme Court on
June 1, 2010, ruled that a defendant who had been given his Miranda
warnings, but had not specifically asked for an attorney, and had not
specifically declined to answer questions, HAS WAIVED HIS RIGHT TO
REMAIN SILENT. The defendant was continually questioned for three hours
AFTER HIS MIRANDA WARNINGS WERE GIVEN and THEN made an admission that
ultimately contributed to his conviction for homicide.
The Supreme
Court ruled that his failure to affirmatively exercise his Miranda
warnings and request a lawyer, DID NOT OFFER HIM ANY PROTECTION FROM THE
USE OF STATEMENTS MADE BY HIM. So now, in light of this decision, I
have to change my advice and my advice is now this: After you hear the
Miranda warnings, TELL THEM YOU WANT A LAWYER. TELL THEM YOU WILL NOT
ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS. THEN SHUT UP! So really what you have to do is
make your position known and then be quiet. Once you have made your
position on questioning and the presence of a lawyer is made known, the
advice I give to a great many of my clients, that EVEN A FISH WOULDN’T
GET IN TROUBLE IF IT KEPT ITS MOUTH SHUT, continues to apply.