Five Reasons to Remain Silent
"You have the right to remain silent; anything can and will be used against you in the court of law…" This is perhaps one of the most well-known phrases concerning law enforcement since the Miranda Rights were established by the Supreme Court. While various movies and television shows have used it to increase drama, many people in the real world hear these words on a daily basis. Before or during an arrest, it is important to ask oneself whether to utilize their right to remain silent.
While law enforcement agents attempting to obtain information from a suspect will encourage "friendly conversation," criminal defense attorneys, who are looking out for the good of their clients, universally agree that silence is golden when it comes to an arrest and interrogation. Despite how much you think that talking to the police can help your case, here are five of the top reasons to remain silent until your legal representative arrives.
- The slightest variation in your story can hurt you: Even when you tell the truth, it is almost impossible for anyone to tell the same story twice the same exact way. Sharing a testimony before your trial can come back to haunt you during cross examination, when the prosecutors will be seeking to knit-pick every detail of your account word-for-word. Regardless of how innocent you are or whether you are telling to truth, telling it only once is your safest bet for a stronger defense. This protects you from accusations that you withheld information or changed your story since you last spoke to the police.
- The police cannot actually grant you leniency for sharing information: While it is a common tactic used by police officers in attempts to gather information from a suspect, the police do not have the authority to give you a deal for sharing information about the case with them. This is often attempted in cases involving more than one suspect but only one apprehended. Police officers will try to get information about the other suspect from the one they have arrested. This information will not only be a sign of admission from the apprehended suspect, it cannot actually guarantee a deal from the prosecutors. It is better to remain silent until your criminal defense lawyer verifies that a legitimate deal is being offered in exchange for the information.
- Pleading guilty can wait: Even suspects who are guilty and want to admit to the charge should stay quiet until they have received counsel from a legal professional. There may be factors in the case that make it possible to bargain for a lesser charge or even take the chance at court. Either way, hold off on admitting to the crime until your attorney has given you the go ahead.
- Accidental white lies: With nerves frantic and blood rushing, sitting in an interrogation room being questioned by a police officer can impact a person's judgment. Fear of conviction and penalties can led one to exaggerate or minimize the events of the incident in question. Deviations from the truth, regardless of how innocent the intentions of the suspect were, are always taken as a sign of guilt.
- Talking will not help you! The very fact that you are being questioned by the police is telling of their intentions to gather information to incriminate you. That means that no amount of information you share with them will cause them to drop the charges or let you go. Many police officers will attempt the "good cop" strategy, goading you to open up to them and be honest. Even if the honest truth is that you are innocent, your words will do nothing to convince them of that. When someone is arrested, it is because the police have enough evidence to suspect them of a crime. No one can "talk their way" out of an arrest, no matter how smart or honest they are.
If you have been arrested and are wondering what the next step is, contact a Morris County criminal defense lawyer from our firm. We want to provide you with the counsel and representation you deserve as you face the charges that have been brought against you.