Imagine a police officer pulls you over while driving. They ask have you been drinking, and you say yes. If they thought you had been drinking before, you have just confirmed their suspicions. If they never even suspected it and were asking on the off chance, you have given them a reason to dig further.
The police can stop you for many reasons. Yet they are not always going to tell you why straight away. Remember, they are trained to get information out of people. They know that if they ask someone if they have done something, many will say yes out of honesty or fear. That makes their life much easier.
Honesty could get you in trouble, but so could lying. What can you do then if saying yes and no could both cause you problems?
The Fifth Amendment gives you the right to remain silent. The problem is saying nothing might not be enough to stop the police from trying to get you to talk. They can carry on probing away in the hope that you eventually speak, and they might use clever tactics to do so.
If, however, you tell them you wish to remain silent or are invoking your right to remain silent, the police need to stop their questions immediately. If they make further attempts to get you to talk, you may be able to use that as part of your defense.
Staying silent does not mean they won’t arrest you. That is where another one of your rights comes in – the right to an attorney. The sooner you get one, the sooner you can look at ways to improve your situation.