One morning at 2:30 a.m., a Dallas-area homeowner was awakened by the noise of someone breaking into his house.
The homeowner was confronted with a man attempting to rob him, and the homeowner responded by fatally shooting the home invader, telling the investigating officers it was done in self-defense.
While it appears to be a justifiable use of deadly force, the police still took the man in to police headquarters for questioning.
Without legal representation at a time like this, the distraught and upset homeowner may say something inadvertently incriminating or mis-remember facts that may not exactly match the physical evidence on scene and land himself in hot water. It is important to know you have the right to request an attorney be present, even if you are not “in custody.”
In 2013, United States Supreme Court held in Salinas v. Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2174 (2013), that prosecutors can use a person’s silence in response to police questioning as evidence of guilt, even if the person is not in custody at the time. That is especially true if the person voluntarily answers a few questions but then stops and remains silent without expressly invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, by saying something like “I wish to invoke my right against self-incrimination and to have an attorney present.” The Supreme Court had previously ruled in Jenkins v. Anderson, 447 U.S. 231 (1980), that prosecutors could use the silence to a particular question as evidence of guilt.
The criminal justice system is not for the faint of heart to go it alone, especially for the ordinary person unfamiliar with how the system works or whom is in a state of confusion or even shock.
That is why you need to have an attorney at your side to protect and guide you through this ordeal.
Remember, we at Texas and U.S. Law Shield have your back. —by Michael Wisdom, Senior Contributing Editor, Texas & U.S. Law Shield Blog