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Failure to communicate could amount to waiving right to silence

A few months back, we offered up five facts every driver should know in the event of being pulled over by police for a traffic stop. The premise of that hypothetical was a stop for suspected drunk driving, but that's not the only situation in which the information could come in handy.

In New Jersey, you can be stopped for all sorts of reasons, and arrests can follow for a broad array of alleged crimes. Alcohol isn't the only substance that can cause impairment. If police suspect marijuana is involved, the traffic stop can escalate into serious drug charges. Regardless of the circumstances, however, one thing remains constant. You have rights. Do you know how to exercise them?

Waiving Miranda rights by implication

We suspect nearly everyone can finish the following phrase, "You have the right to remain silent." What follows, of course, is that anything you say can be used against you in court. This is the gist of the Miranda warning that police must recite to suspects and be sure they understand. Another right explained in the warning is that you have a right to an attorney.

As a rule, once the Miranda warning is communicated to a suspect, the presumption is that the right to remain silent is in force and that any statements made after that point are not admissible. It is possible for you to waive your rights. This can be done explicitly, by verbal or signed statement. It also might happen implicitly. If you happen to utter even a single word, but remain otherwise silent during an hours-long interrogation, it might be construed as you having waived of your rights.

To avoid this from occurring, experienced attorneys recommend making it very clear from the outset that you are invoking your Miranda rights. Not just by remaining silent, but by saying something like, "I am exercising my right to remain silent and I want to speak with my attorney."

Being clear about invoking your rights is among the earliest steps anyone facing charges should take to get through what can be a long legal process.

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