The defendants were arrested for attempting to sell a controlled substance and were provided Miranda warnings. At trial, they testified that the government had “framed” them. The government then sought to introduce evidence that the defendants had not made any statements to this effect after their arrest.
Whether the government’s use of the defendants’ post-arrest silence on cross-examination violated their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent?
Yes. Once provided the right to remain silent, the government may not use that protection against the defendant.
Providing a constitutional protection to a defendant and then using that protection against them renders the protection meaningless. The Court stated that “while it is true that the Miranda warnings contain no express assurance that silence will carry no penalty, such assurance is implicit to any person who receives the warnings. In such circumstances, it would be fundamentally unfair and a deprivation of due process to allow the arrested person’s silence to be used to impeach an explanation subsequently offered at trial.”
426 U.S. 610, 96 S. Ct. 2240 (1976)