CA Court Rules That What You Didn’t Say Can Be Held Against You


Those “Miranda” warnings that police read to suspects following an arrest are, as a California Supreme Court justice acknowledged in a dissenting opinion, a ubiquitous part of American culture thanks to TV crime dramas and cop shows. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” After the California Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling in a vehicular manslaughter case last week, perhaps the Miranda wording ought to change given that anything you previously “didn't say” could be used against you, as well, says U-T San Diego.

Justices upheld the prosecution of a man based on the district attorney's argument that the defendant's silence was evidence of guilt. The decision stems from a horrific 2007 car accident south of San Francisco. Richard Tom broadsided Loraine Wong's car at a high speed, killing her 8-year old-daughter and seriously injuring her 10-year-old daughter. Tom was convicted of gross vehicular manslaughter. The jury acquitted him on charges that he was driving while intoxicated. A key element of the gross-negligence charges — the allegation that Tom behaved without regard for the well-being of others — was that he never asked police officers about the condition of Wong and her children.

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