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Salinas v. Texas

Salinas v. Texas

Using the attached information, you will prepare a Case Brief on a recent United States Supreme Court
decision regarding the attached case. You must include the following sections: caption, facts, procedural
history, issue, rule of law, holding, and rationale. The Case Brief must be 1�2 pages.


Salinas v. Texas

Caption: 133 S. Ct. 2174 (2013)
Facts: Police found two brothers shot and killed in their home. Upon investigation, the police
found Salinas who accepted to be taken to the police station where he was question for
approximately one hour. Both the police and Salinas had agreed that the interview would be
noncustodial and the Miranda rights were not given. Salinas answered most of the questions but
he kept silent when asked whether the shotgun would match the shells recovered at the scene of
crime. However, Salinas continued to answer other questions asked. At his trial, Salinas refused
to testify, over which the prosecution used his silence in response to the question asked by the
police officer as evidence of his guilt.
Procedural history: Salinas received a conviction for murder by the trial court. The Texas State
Court of Appeals and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Salina’s conviction, rejecting
Salinas’ argument that the use of his silence by the prosecution as evidence of his guilt was a
violation of the Fifth Amendment.
Issue: Were the prosecutors in violation of Salinas’ Fifth Amendment rights against forced self-
incrimination when they used his silence in response to police question as evidence of his
criminality, even when Salinas had not invoked his privilege against self-incrimination, was not
put in custody, and was not given Miranda warnings?
Rule of law: The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that a suspect of
crime has a right not to be forced by police officers and any other government officials into
giving up evidence that has the ability of acting as evidence of his guilt. Following this

prohibition against self-incrimination and prevention of coerced testimony by police officers and
other officers of the government, the Supreme Court in Miranda v Arizona ruled that a person
who was held by the police and whose freedom to leave was curtailed had to be informed of the
right to remain silent.
Holding: The plurality decision was that the accused’s rights were not violated by the
prosecution because he did not invoke the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination in order
to benefit from it.
Rationale: The two recognized exceptions to the invocation of the Fifth Amendment privilege
did not apply in this case. The first exception is that a defendant does not need to take a position
and assert the privilege against self-incrimination during his own trial. The other exception is
that the failure of a witness to invoke the privilege can be excused if the coercion by the police or
government officials made his forfeiture of the privilege involuntary. It is not disputable that the
interview of Salinas by the police was voluntary. He admitted that he had a choice to leave the
police station at any time and that nothing prevented him from stating that he was not going to
answer the police officer’s question on Fifth Amendment grounds.
The Court did not adopt the third exception in which a witness remains silent and thus refuses to
answer a question which police officers suspect would be incriminating. The Fifth Amendment
only protects the right to remain silent if the silence is for purposes of avoiding self-
incrimination. The reason of a witness’ silence is vague where there is no express invocation.
In concurrence, Thomas (joined by Scalia) argued that the calm by the defendant should fail even
where he invokes the privilege due to the fact that the comments of the prosecutor on his pre-
custodial silence were not compulsive to the defendant to give self-incriminating information.

Dissenting, Breyer (joined by Kagan, Sotomayor, and Ginsburg) stated that ‘no ritualistic
formula is necessary to invoke the privilege’ and that it is important to consider the
circumstances of the case. Accordingly, it was not necessary for the defendant to expressly
invoke the privilege because the questioning was in the perspective of a criminal investigation
and the police made it known to the defendant, who was not represented by a counsel, that he
was a suspect.



Miranda v Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966).
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Salinas v. Texas, 133 S. Ct. 2174 (2013).

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