right to silence

(redirected from Right against self-incrimination)

right to silence

the idea that a person should not be able to incriminate himself simply by saying nothing at all. In England and Wales the right has been known for some time, even although there was no constitutional provision. The history is not as might be expected. Originally all witnesses could be interrogated, and although this was stopped in the 17th century, the accused was denied the right to give evidence in his own defence. This was changed by the Criminal Evidence Act 1898. In the 20th century the position was arrived at first under the Judges' Rules of 1912 and latterly under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 that a suspect had to be cautioned that he need not answer any questions put to him. However, in terms of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (similar to the Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988), courts are permitted to comment on a failure to give evidence. As a result, the caution given to suspects has been changed to warn the suspect of this fact. It has been held that the Northern Ireland rules did not infringe the EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS albeit the Convention has been interpreted in the past to the effect that the right to silence is an inherent part of the protection available under Article 6 of the Convention. The right has been further reinforced in the UK by the Human Rights Act 1998.

In Scotland, the history is similar, and the principle has been described as sacred and inviolable. There are no statutory measures such as exist in England, but the common law caution administered warns suspects of their right and a detained person must be warned that he need only give his name and address. So far as comment to the jury is concerned, the Scots courts have always been able to comment but subject to restraint and only in special and appropriate circumstances. Since 1995 the prosecutor has been able to comment.

In the USA, the use of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments have long given constitutional protection to citizens - a person does not have to answer a question if, truly answered, it would tend to incriminate him. Being a constitutional provision, the right is more general and of wide influence in matters outside the actual courtroom. Suspects have to be cautioned and informed of their right. See EXCLUSIONARY RULE.

Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006
References in periodicals archive ?
He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying about texts that were allegedly deleted.
He said they raised the concert that "if the witnesses are being presented as ordinary witnesses as the state prosecutors claimed, were the witnesses properly informed of their constitutional rights, particularly their right against self-incrimination and their Miranda rights or right to remain silent?"
It also quells a simmering crisis for the GOP, after several Republican senators openly urged the president's son either not to comply with the committee's summons or to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he appeared.
In particular, the research team said that the "voluntary surrender" in the police program, where a subject is "persuaded" to execute an affidavit, affects the citizen's right to due process, right to presumption of innocence, right against self-incrimination and right to privacy.
The following rights, enshrined in our Constitution, were affected and made vulnerable by the policies on drug war: Right to Due Process Right to Equal Protection of the Laws Right to Unwarranted Searches and Warrantless arrest/Arrest without Cause Right against Self-Incrimination Right to Counsel Right to Presumption of Innocence Right to Information Right to Health The term Tokhang is derived from the combination of Visayan words "toktok" (to knock) and "hangyo" (to plead).
According to The Hollywood Reporter, in January, Weinstein asked Gutierrez to stay the suit, arguing that he needed to preserve his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in the criminal matter and as a result couldn't effectively defend himself against the actor.
De Guia, however, said that mandatory drug testing violates the right to privacy and the right against self-incrimination or testifying against oneself.
That led the court to conclude that the state's constitution provides a broader right against self-incrimination.
The plaintiff in this divorce case must respond to an interrogatory and a request for admission concerning misdemeanor acts of adultery despite invoking his right against self-incrimination.
The expert also retained an attorney to represent her interests after the court advised the expert of her right against self-incrimination.
Cooper relied on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in his answer to the original complaint.
3 to answer to allegations of covering up sexual abuse by members of the clergy, Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati invoked his right against self-incrimination. The Chilean prosecutor's office in Rancagua, led by Emiliano Arias, issued a subpoena in July after conducting raids of diocesan offices in Rancagua and Santiago.