Everybody has heard about the right to remain silent. So why do people often just talk freely to law enforcement? When a suspect is taken into custody and the police want to interrogate the suspect, they must inform the suspect about the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney and the right not to make any statement that may incriminate you. The Miranda warning includes the statement that any statement can and will be used against you in a court of law. Amazingly the statement does not mean that any statement can and will be used in your favor in a court of law. Hence the right to remain silent sometimes makes a world of difference.
During my 19 years of practice, I have had many clients meet with police before hiring me. Unfortunately, the clients made the mistake of NOT remaining silent. Sure the police will tell you they can help you, you should tell the truth, the district attorney will go easier on you for cooperating. In each of the those cases, mostly sex assaults, the conversation with the police clinched the investigation and severally hampered any defense in those cases. A rather thin case, with little evidence turned into an open and shut case with a full confession.
When you speak with police, rarely will the conversation convince the police not to make an arrest. You won’t talk your way out of an arrest. So why talk at all? The police want to speak with you, not to get your side of the story, but to turn an investigation into a conviction. Confessions are a nice conclusion to an investigation for the police. You don’t know what the police know. You don’t know what words will be misinterpreted. The police will wear you down. The police will use many tricks to get you to say something you don’t necessarily mean to say and presto they have a confession or a statement that a jury will think is a confession.
In some jurisdictions, if the police find that you are lying, they will charge you with felony attempt to influence a public official. Lying to the police is obviously giving false information but trying to influence a public official? If you think about the high profile cases of Insider Trading, it wasn’t the crime that caused the prison time, it was the lying to investigators that lead to prison. Why talk at all?
So what do you do if the police come knocking? Be polite. Tell them you would be happy to speak with them after conferring with an attorney. Hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who has been in the battle before and knows what to say t the police. Have your attorney be the reason you are not going to speak with the police. Let the attorney be the bad person. Remember you have the right to remain silent–A case without a confession can make a world of difference in a criminal case.