No, you're not being hauled away by the police and you won't need a lawyer to get you off the hook.
But if sitting silently in class and never letting on that you have a good mind were a crime, some of you would have some serious explaining to do!
Year in and year out I meet students in my classes who do their best to be invisible. They never ask a question, volunteer an answer or opinion, or speak (when called on) for more than an instant.
Many of these students are smart and have plenty to say--something I discover when I read their first papers or meet them for conferences. But until that "aha" moment, they're often a mystery to me and others around them.
Some students have told me that they're simply too shy to speak in class. Or that they spoke up in high school but were silenced by obnoxious classmates or overly critical teachers. Or that they're worried about giving a wrong answer or saying something someone might disagree with.
So they sit silently in class and let others do all the talking.
If you're one of these folks, you need to think about changing your ways. While you needn't be the most talkative person in class, you clearly deserve to be heard when you have a question to ask or a thought or opinion to share. Don't let the loud mouths of the world (and there are unfortunately a few in our midst) or the possibilty of a wrong answer (who hasn't been wrong at some point?) keep you from participating in the life of your classes.
Remember: This is YOUR education.
In the end, you do have the right to remain silent in class, of course, but you also have the right to speak up and make your presence felt.
I cast my vote for the latter; so should you.