2013 Supreme Court Case of Salinas v. Texas & Miranda

Question: How did the 2013 Supreme Court case of Salinas v. Texas change Miranda Rights?

Answer: This is an interesting case. When you look at Salinas v. Texas, it’s actually a case that I think really weakens Miranda, in the fact that it allows the state or the government to use a person’s silence against them. With Miranda, you have the right to remain silent, and by remaining silent, it won’t be used against you. Well, in this particular case, in Salinas, the person was a suspect in a crime—he was not arrested. He voluntarily went to the police department.

At the police department, he was asked about shotgun casings at the scene of the murder, whether they would match his gun, and some other questions. He answered most of the questions, but when it came to the point of whether the shotgun casings found at the scene would match his gun, he did not answer that. And so he basically answered all the questions all the way through, but when he came to this particular question, he remained silent.

When it went to trial, the prosecutors actually commented on the fact that he remained silent at that point and would not answer that question. So they basically used his silence against him.

The Supreme Court said that was OK, because he did not invoke his privilege, that the right to remain silent was OK. Now, remember, in this case he had voluntarily gone there—he was not under arrest. But what is interesting is the court said that even had he invoked his right, that the comment at trial regarding the defendant’s silence in response to the question did not compel the defendant to give a self-incriminating testimony against himself.

That silence, even though he was silent and it was being used against him, that was not compelling him to give self-incriminating testimony. So it really weakens Miranda and how it can be used or not used.

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