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FSU's Jameis Winston Not Talking to Police in Alleged Battery Case

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on November 15, 2013 1:55 PM

FSU Quarterback Jameis Winston is under investigation for sexual assault by the Tallahassee police, and he's not talking.

According to ESPN, the investigation stems from a "sexual assault complaint filed nearly a years ago," but no criminal charges have yet been filed.

Winston's status as a player hasn't changed as of yet, but what does the player's silence mean?

Winston Can Remain Silent

In the United States, the Fifth Amendment protects persons from incriminating themselves by allowing an individual to remain silent, even while on trial for a crime.

The Florida State University athlete has not been arrested in connection with the allegations, but he has declined to "speak with police or provide a statement" for their investigation of a December 2012 complaint of sexual battery, reports ESPN.

In fact, there is no legal requirement that any suspect or witness answer police questions either before or after arrest, although cooperating with police can typically produce smoother interactions. Winston is currently under no obligation to cooperate with officers and speak with them about an ongoing sexual assault investigation -- even if police decide arrest him and physically bring him in for questioning.

Often police will attempt to avoid an arrest until the investigation has garnered significant evidence to charge a suspect with a crime. Police also need at least probable cause to believe Winston has committed a crime in order to legally arrest him. Similarly, prosecutors have an ethical duty not to bring criminal charges unless there is probable cause to support them.

Investigation of Sexual Assault Ongoing

While the FSU QB has taken a sideline in the investigation, ESPN reports that the University released a statement confirming that his "status with the team" has not changed.

Not that FSU doesn't have the option to bench Winston during the investigation; even the pros have suspended players pending investigations of abuse and harassment.

Despite any movement by authorities to arrest the college athlete, according to ESPN, Winston has been represented by attorney Tim Jansen. Sports Illustrated reports that Jansen flatly denied the allegations against his client, stating neither he nor Winston are sure why the case was "opened up."

ESPN reports the case has been turned over to the state attorney, who has asked Tallahassee police to continue their investigation.

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