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Miranda Rights

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Generally, when defendants invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refuse to testify or submit to cross-examination at trial, the prosecutor cannot indirectly punish them for the exercise of a constitutional right by commenting on their silence and insinuating that it is an implicit admission of guilt. Since Miranda rights are simply a judicial gloss upon the Fifth Amendment which protects against coercive interrogations, the same rule also prevents prosecutors from commenting about the post-arrest silence of suspects who invoke their Miranda rights immediately after arrest. However, neither the Fifth Amendment nor Miranda extend to pre-arrest silence, which means that if a defendant takes the witness stand at trial (meaning he just waived his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent), the prosecutor can attack his credibility with his pre-arrest silence (based on his failure to immediately turn himself in and confess to the things he voluntarily testified about at trial).



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