Salinas v. Texas Case Brief

Facts of the case

In 1992, Houston police officers found two homicide victims. The investigation led officers to Genovevo Salinas. Salinas agreed to accompany the officers to the police station where he was questioned for about one hour. Salinas was not under arrest at this time and had not been read his Miranda rights. Salinas answered every question until an officer asked whether the shotgun shells found at the scene of the crime would match the gun found in Salinas’ home. According to the officer, Salinas remained silent and demonstrated signs of deception. A ballistics analysis later matched Salinas’ gun with the casings at the scene. Police also found a witness who said Salinas admitted to killing the victims. In 1993, Salinas was charged with the murders, but could not be located.15 years later, Salinas was finally captured. The first trial ended in a mistrial. At the second trial, the prosecution attempted to introduce evidence of Salinas’ silence about the gun casings. Salinas objected, arguing that he could invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination whether he was in custody or not. The trial court admitted the evidence and Salinas was found guilty and sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The Fourteenth Court of Appeals, Harris County, Texas affirmed, noting that the courts that have addressed this issue are divided. The Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas affirmed.

CONCLUSION

The Supreme Court of the United States affirmed the judgment of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court found that Genovevo’s situation was outside the scope of Miranda because he agreed to accompany the officers to the station and was free to leave at any time during the interview. The privilege against self-incrimination generally was not self-executing and a witness who desired its protection had to claim it. According to the Court, a witness did not invoke the privilege by simply standing mute. In this regard, Genovevo was required to assert the privilege in order to benefit from it. Thus, Genovevo’s Fifth Amendment claim failed because he did not expressly invoke the privilege against self-incrimination in response to the officer’s question. The Court rejected Genovevo’s argument that the invocation requirement did not apply where a witness was silent in the face of official suspicions.

  • Advocates: Jeffrey L. Fisher for the petitioner Alan K. Curry for the respondent Ginger D. Anders Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae supporting the respondent
  • Petitioner: Genovevo Salinas
  • Respondent: Texas
  • DECIDED BY:Roberts Court
  • Location: Houston Police Department Headquarters
Citation: 570 US 178 (2013)
Granted: Jan 11, 2013
Argued: Apr 17, 2013
Decided: Jun 17, 2013
Salinas v. Texas Case Brief