The Right to Silence

Write a 5 pages paper on the right to silence. In England, the right to remain silence, during interrogation by the police, was developed in 1829. This right came into force with the establishment of the professional police force. Prior to the development of this principle, there were complaints that confession were illegally obtained by the police. Under this right, a suspect can refuse to answer the questions posed by the police or courts. The 1912 guidelines, relating to the interrogation of suspects by the police, gave effect to this right. Furthermore, this instrument incorporated a right to silence in the Judges’ Rules.The right to remain silent is inherent in the legal system of the majority of the countries. The accused can exercise this right during pre-trial interviews and interrogations, conducted by the police. Another right, in the criminal justice system is the privilege against self-incrimination. The right to remain silent and protection against self-incrimination have connoted different things at different times. In England, the privilege against self-incrimination was initially available, only to individuals under oath. All the same, those under oath were prevented from giving evidence, and this enabled the prosecution to subject the accused to incriminating questioning (Skinnider and Gordon). In Ibrahim v R, the court held that the confession of the accused could be accepted only if such confession had been voluntarily provided, by the accused. The prosecution was required to establish that the accused had voluntarily confessed his guilt (Ibrahim v R). The right to remain silent has long been deemed to be a fundamental right of an accused person. However, the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 has significantly reduced the effectiveness of this right. This Act empowers the courts to draw conclusions from the silence of an accused person, under the following circumstances (Curtailment of the right to silence). First, if the accused fails to mention a fact, during the trial, even though that fact directly relates to his defence, the court may arrive at its own conclusions regarding the accused. Second, if the accused fails to mention a fact, on being charged with some offence, which should have been reasonably mentioned by the accused (Curtailment of the right to silence). Third, if the accused fails to acknowledge the objects, substances, or marks on his body, clothing or personal effects found at the place where the accused was arrested. Fourth, if the accused fails to account for his presence at the place where the offence was committed, at the time that the offence had been committed (Curtailment of the right to silence). The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 has come into force, from April 1995. This Act places a number of restrictions on the exercise of the right to silence by suspects, during trial and police interrogation.

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