The Supreme Court of the United States is the last and final judgement on legal decisions. The supreme court accepts cases that have been through lower courts and appeals process until there are not anymore options. One case questions, whether silence is an admission of guilt. Does the Fifth Amendment protect a defendant’s refusal to answer question to the police before being read Miranda’s rights or arrested?
ONE ELEMENT The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution. “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in the cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the subject for the dame offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” The Fifth Amendment is important because it protects out rights from being abused by the government.
In Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law enforcement officials can use a person’s silence against them if the fail to claim their Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate themselves.
Two brothers, Juan and Hector Garza, were shot and killed in their Houston, in their home on December 18, 1992. Houston police arrived at the murder scene. Shotguns shell casings were the only evidence left behind by the murder. Genovevo Salinas was a suspect, his car fit the description and he was an acquaintance of the two brothers. Also, Salinas apparently was at a party the night before the murder at the Garza’s residence. Salinas was not arrested but, voluntary went with police for a noncustodial interview. Salinas was not read his Miranda rights since he was free to leave at any time. Salinas was at his home at the time, where his shotgun was confiscated by police. Salinas answered questions for an hour. According to a police report, a police officer ask if his shotgun “would match the shells recovered at the scene of the murder,” Salinas was silent. The police officer also reported after refusing to answer, Salinas ” looked down at the floor, shuffled his feet, bits his bottom lip, clenched his hands in his lap, and began to tighten up.” Salinas left the police station after the questioning. Salina’s shotgun matched the casings of the homicide. A warrant went out after Salina’s arrest, the police officers could not locate him. Almost 15 years later, in 2007 a man with a different name is arrested for drug charges. The fingerprints matched Salinas.
Salinas was found guilty of IThe 5-4 decision
First mistrial was because of a hung jury. A hung jury is a judicial jury that cannot agree upon a verdict if Salinas was guilty or not.
In court proceedings, Salina’s argument was that the Fifth amendment protected his right to remain silent to avoide self- incrimination. Salina’s was found guilty and charged with 20 years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
TWO ELEMENT COURT APPEALS Salina appleal with the Fourteeth court of appeal and court of criminal appeals
Salina appeal to the supreme court, they granted him a hearing in January 2013. On April 17, 2013 with preceedings from Miranda v. Arizona and Griffin v. California. Griffin v. California mention how prosecutetors cannot use a suspect’s silence as evidence for jury. The 5th Amendement, procetors argue just protected citizen from being forced to incriminate themselves.
REASON FOR COURT DECISION: On June 17th 2013, the Supreme Court sided with Texas. The vote was 5-4. Majortiy of the vote said the reason for the against vote was that Salinas