369 S. W. 3d 176, affirmed. JUSTICE ALITO, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE and JUSTICE KENNEDY, concluded that petitioner’s Fifth Amendment claim fails because he did not expressly invoke the privilege in response to the officer’squestion.
(a) To prevent the privilege against self-incrimination from shielding information not properly within its scope, a witness who “ ‘desires the protection of the privilege . . . must claim it’ ” at the time he relies on it.
Minnesota v. Murphy, 465 U. S. 420, 427. This Court has recognized two exceptions to that requirement. First, a criminal defendant need not take the stand and assert the privilege at his owntrial. Griffin v. California, 380 U. S. 609, 613–615. Petitioner’s silence falls outside this exception because he had no comparable unqualified right not to speak during his police interview. Second, a witness’ failure to invoke the privilege against self-incriminationmust be excused where governmental coercion makes his forfeiture of the privilege involuntary. See, e.g., Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, 467−468, and n. 37. Petitioner cannot benefit from this principle
2 SALINAS v. TEXAS
because it is undisputed that he agreed to accompany the officers tothe station and was free to leave at any time. Pp. 3−6.
(b)Petitioner seeks a third exception to the express invocation requirement for cases where the witness chooses to stand mute rather than give an answer that officials suspect would be incriminating, but this Court’s cases all but foreclose that argument.
A defendant normally does not invoke the privilege by remaining silent. See Roberts v. United States, 445 U. S. 552, 560. And the express invocationrequirement applies even when an official has reason to suspect thatthe answer to his question would incriminate the witness. See Murphy, supra, at 427−428. For the same reasons that neither a witness’ silence nor official suspicion is sufficient by itself to relieve a witnessof the obligation to expressly invoke the privilege, they do not do so together. The proposed exception also would be difficult to reconcile with Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U. S. 370, where this Court held in the closely related context of post-Miranda silence that a defendant failed to invoke his right to cut off police questioning when he remained silent for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Id., at ___.
Petitioner claims that reliance on the Fifth Amendment privilege isthe most likely explanation for silence in a case like his, but such silence is “insolubly ambiguous.” See Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U. S. 610, 617. To be sure, petitioner might have declined to answer the officer’s question in reliance on his constitutional privilege. But he also might have done so because he was trying to think of a good lie, because he was embarrassed, or because he was protecting someone else. Not every such possible explanation for silence is probative of guilt, butneither is every possible explanation protected by the Fifth Amendment.
Petitioner also suggests that it would be unfair to require a suspect unschooled in the particulars of legal doctrine to do anything more than remain silent in order to invoke his “right to remain silent.” But the Fifth Amendment guarantees that no one may be“compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” not an unqualified “right to remain silent.” In any event, it is settled that forfeiture of the privilege against self-incrimination need not be knowing.
Murphy, 465 U. S., at 427–428. Pp. 6−10.
Petitioner’s argument that applying the express invocation requirement in this context will be unworkable is also unpersuasive. The Court has long required defendants to assert the privilege in order to subsequently benefit from it, and this rule has not proved difficult to apply in practice. Pp. 10−12.