US Supreme Court Shines More Light on a Defendant's Fifth Amendment Rights in Salinas v. Texas


Does the Fifth Amendment privilege against compulsory self-incrimination prohibit a prosecutor from using a defendant's pre-custodial silence as evidence of their guilt?

In 1993 the Houston City police department detective's division began to suspect Genovevo Salinas of having committed two murders. They asked Salinas to come to the police station to "take photographs and to clear him as a suspect." Salinas was taken by the police into an interview room at the police station. Critically, Salinas was not advised of his "Miranda warnings" because he was "free to leave." After answering several questions, Salinas fell silent when he was questioned about a shotgun that was recovered from his home and whether or not "it would match shells recovered at the scene of the murder." Salinas was later convicted of murder at a jury trial. During closing statement, the prosecutor commented to the jury that Salinas had quit answering questions halfway through the interview at the police station.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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