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California Supreme Court: Prosecutors May Use The Silence Of A Defendant As Proof Of Guilt

August 22, 2014
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Source: Jonathan Turley

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The California Supreme Court has handed down a major 4-3 decision in a vehicular manslaughter case that further erodes the rights of citizens to remain silent after being placed into custody. As are all familiar with the Miranda warning that “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” However, as we recently discussed, the Supreme Court by plurality decision that effectively allowed pre-Miranda silence to be used against a criminal defendant in Salinas v. Texas 570 U.S. ___, ___ (2013) (plur. opn. of Alito, J.). Now, the California Supreme Court in People v. Tom, has handed down the first major application of Salinas and ruled that the prosecution can use the silence of a defendant (Richard Tom, left) as evidence of guilt. In California, it is not simply what you say but what you do not say that can be used against you. It is not clear if they are going to change the warning to let people know that if they do not speak, their silence can be used as incriminating.

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