Your silence can be used against you in a court of law to prove your guilt if you are charged with committing a crime in the State of California says the California Supreme Court.
In short, your federal Constitutional Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination, your fundamental right to remain silent has been nullified in the golden state.
The court actually ruled that a criminal defendant’s silence after the event for which he was charged with a crime was properly used against him in court to prove his guilt, and only after the cops arrested and then advised the defendant that he had a right to remain silent did he begin to enjoy the right without his silence being used against him as proof of his guilt.
In other words, a criminal suspect in California has no right to remain silent until the cops advise him that he has the right to remain silent. Until then, his silence may be used against him.
Is that bizarre, or what? Can you, or anyone else besides these stupid jurists, make any sense of this?
The defendant, Richard Tom, was convicted of felony vehicular manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison for speeding and slamming his car into another vehicle at a Redwood City intersection. An 8-year-old girl was killed; her sister and mother injured.
Prosecutors repeatedly told jurors during the trial that Tom's failure to ask about the victims immediately after the crash but before police read him his so-called Miranda rights showed his guilt. An appellate court threw out his conviction because of this obvious constitutional violation but the California Supreme Court reinstated it.
Of course, anything an accused voluntarily says after the event can traditionally be used against him as he can waive his right to remain silent. "If you say anything to the police - that can be used against you. Now, if you don't say anything before you are warned of your rights - that too can be used against you," noted Tom’s defense attorney. "It's a very dangerous ruling,"
The ruling said that Tom needed to explicitly assert his right to remain silent — before he was read his Miranda rights — for the silence to be inadmissible in court.
This begs the questions: why is it ever necessary at all to advise the accused of the right to remain silent if he is already aware of it, exercising it, and remaining silent? Why should that right be a nullity until the cops formally advise of it? Why is there no right to remain silent before being advised of the right? Why isn’t the right always operative?
The fact is that suspects are usually not aware of it. That’s why the U.S. Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona ruled decades ago now that police must advise of the right before questioning the suspect. This suspect was not only aware of it, he was exercising it.
Apparently this Court expects the accused to explicitly assert his Fifth Amendment rights to the victim and bystanders before his arrest. Otherwise his silence may be used against him. This guy was supposed to jump out of the car and immediately verbally assert is right to remain silent. When the cops put him in the squad car he was supposed to verbally assert his rights.
That’s nonsense. What could be more illogical than that? Do they think that criminal defendants are all lawyers?
Moreover, since when is the fact that the accused kept silent after the event and didn’t ask the police about the status of the victim’s evidence of his guilt? Why isn’t silence in that situation just as much evidence of innocence as it is guilt?
There is little doubt that there was was more than sufficient evidence in this case to convict this guy without resorting to a violation his constitutional rights. The prosecutor’s overreached and the court let them get away with it. Now a dangerous precedent has been set.
That’s why I predict with confidence that this idiotic ruling will not stand if the case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That court will once again affirm your right to remain silent in California.