Criminal Justice: Does Silence Mean Guilt?

"Silence gives consent." So runs an ancient maxim of common law, and from that maxim flows a widely applied legal principle: the rule of tacit admission. On the theory that an innocent man would loudly deny a serious charge, the rule holds that a suspect silent in the face of an accusation has tacitly admitted the crime. And such silence can later be introduced at his trial as an indicator of guilt.

Despite the U.S. Constitution's guarantee against selfincrimination, the rule has long been followed in much of the U.S. Now the anachronism...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!