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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 113136 Find in a Library
Title: Right to Silence
Journal: Policing  Volume:4  Issue:2  Dated:(Summer 1988)  Pages:88-105
Author(s): I McKenzie; B Irving
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 18
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United Kingdom
Annotation: In England and Wales, there is a distinction among the right of a suspect to avoid self-incrimination, the right to remain silent, and the refusal to answer questions during police interrogation in an effort to manipulate the criminal justice system.
Abstract: This is the result of complex case law. The first right is dealt with by providing legal advice to suspects in police stations. In the second case, courts have treated an accused's failure to answer all questions during the police interview as a nullity and, thus, exclude the evidence of questioning. However, interviews in which the suspect refuses to answer some questions but chooses to answer others are admissible. Observations of interviews with 126 suspects conducted in a Brighton police station in 1986-1987 indicate that none of the suspects remained totally mute, 11 percent failed to respond to some questions, and 5 percent refused to answer all questions of substance. The majority of suspects exercising their right to silence were accused of serious offenses. Further, while one might expect interviews in which the suspect remains silent to be short, they in fact averaged 46 minutes. This is because the case law creates intolerable ambiguities for interrogators. Police continue questioning because to fail to do so might draw criticism and because the suspect eventually may answer substantive questions, thus rendering the interview admissible in evidence. 16 references and 3 tables.
Main Term(s): Rules of evidence
Index Term(s): England; Interrogation procedures; Right against self incrimination; Scotland; Suspect interrogation
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