Why a Person Should Never Speak to The Police:
As stated eloquently by Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, “Any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances.”
A criminal defense attorney would be a fool to ever let his client speak to the police. One of the foremost experts, Professor James Duane, lectured upon reasons why people should never talk to the police. Our office is very thankful that he has allowed us to put these ideas on our website and we have included his 45-minute video presentation that explains why a person should never speak to the police under any circumstances whatsoever along with his lecture on: "You Have the Right to Remain Innocent." We recommend that you purchase his book “You have the Right to Remain Innocent” as well.
In our law practice, we comprised some examples of when our clients spoke to the police before retaining our office. It is of our opinion that of all the things that we have placed on our website, if a reader only looks at this one section of our website, then that would be more important than anything else we have posted. NEVER SPEAK TO THE POLICE. We want to thank Professor Duane for allowing us to use some of his ideas and expand upon them.
Here are Professor Duane's very important videos on why you should never talk to the police:
Don't Talk to the Police:
You Have the Right To Remain Innocent:
Understanding the 5th Amendment:
The Fifth Amendment protects people from having to testify against themselves. Therefore, the prosecution must use evidence and witnesses instead of the testimony of the accused person to convict them. The point of the 5th Amendment is to protect people from saying something incriminating. However, people who invoke this right and refuse to say anything are often thought of as guilty or have something to hide. It seems that either way you are doomed because if you talk, you could mistakenly say something that could be used against you but if you do not, people assume you are guilty. If you do decide to talk to the police, you could make mistakes when explaining where you were at the time of the crime or you could be tricked into saying the wrong thing, and those statements could lead to you being convicted of a serious crime. Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Criminal Defense Attorneys would like to demonstrate why it is the best decision to never speak to the police and immediately ask to speak to one of our Georgia Criminal Lawyers.
11 Reasons Why You Should Never Talk To The Police When Arrested or Questioned:
Talking to the police cannot help you. While this seems contradictory, why wouldn't it help if I tell the truth, evidence shows that it actually never helps. Police officers and investigators will tell you that they have never had a case where someone talked his or her way out of getting arrested. It just doesn't happen! In the Federal Rules of Evidence 801(d)(2)(a), it explains when evidence can be admitted. It is interesting to note that the words you use can be used against you but never used for you.
Example: Our office recently spoke to a woman who was charging her boyfriend with assaulting her. During her conversation with the police, the police officer determined that our client was potentially stalking her boyfriend. This determination exposed her to criminal liability, and she was later criminally charged herself.
If you are guilty- or even if you are innocent- you may admit your guilt with no benefit in return. Even if you are guilty, there is plenty of time to admit your guilt. People plead guilty every day across the United States. Just because you did not admit your guilt to the police officer does not mean there will not be more chances. Waiting to admit guilt can help you obtain a lower sentence or time to work out a plea agreement. Further, you never know what proof or evidence the police have. They may not have any evidence against you. A confession at the beginning guarantees a conviction with nothing in return for you. Wait to get a lawyer first and let them set up an agreement where you get something in exchange for accepting responsibility for the offense.
Example: One of our clients was accused of being involved in a hit and run. It turned out that the police had very little evidence that it was our client, except for a description of the car that hit the victim: a red Ford F150. This is a very common car and vehicle color yet by talking to the police; our client gave them everything they needed to convict her.
Even if you are innocent and deny you are guilty and mostly tell the truth, you can easily get carried away and tell some little lie or make some little mistake that will hang you. In stressful situations, people often start to give a great deal of information. Even if they are innocent, people may unintentionally lie about a small detail when going on and on, and that mistake could be used to obtain a conviction.
Example: Most clients are very nervous when they are questioned or arrested by the police. Our client told the police officer that he was not even in town the day an alleged burglary occurred. It turns out that the truth was that he came back into town that day. He did not intentionally lie, but he was mistaken about the time frame he returned. In his own mind, he was not in town that day, yet he came back that day well within the stroke of time when the burglary occurred. He gave himself the opportunity to commit the crime, and that was used to help convict him.
Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth, you will always give the police some information that can be used to help convict you. People often get intimidated or nervous when speaking to the police or detectives and start to tell everything. Even if they are innocent, if one thing could be harmful, the police will use that one statement or action to obtain a conviction. Even truthful responses may provide the government with incriminating evidence.
Example: Just as Professor Duane said in one of his examples, we have had many clients that will admit a negative relationship with someone, which then helps the state prosecute then. Several examples include when someone indicates they had been fighting with the alleged victim or had a financial dispute or that they simply didn't like the alleged victim. We had a client in North Georgia that had a long-standing feud with a neighbor. The discussion about that feud with the investigating officers of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was used in a presentation of motive against our client. Although motive is not necessary to achieve a conviction, it certainly does not hurt when they do not have other evidence.
Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the police anything incriminating, there is still a grave chance that your answers can be used to crucify you if the police do not recall your testimony with 100% accuracy. Police officers do not always write every word down, yet they are then called upon to remember what someone said in a police interview. Months or years later, they are called upon to testify at trial where they are forced to remember precisely what you said. Mistakes can easily be made, and these mistakes can cost you the outcome of the trial, even though you were honest from the beginning.
Example: Neither the FBI nor GBI records their interviews. We have had many clients that have been interrogated by sheriffs and police investigators who have had their statements misconstrued. Years ago, a GBI agent spent a great deal of time discussing with a client of ours about the terrible things that would happen to our client in prison. He also said all the ways he would help our client if our client would come forward. Then, that same GBI agent had our client provide a written confession that was used to send the client to prison. Of course, the agent has not “recollection” of his offer to help the accused if he was honest.
Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the police anything incriminating and your statement is videotaped, your answers can be used to crucify you if the police do not recall the questions with 100% accuracy. If police officers do not remember 100% accurately the questions they asked, your answers could be made to look as untruthful, even if it was the truth. Police officers are human too and can make mistakes when testifying about the questions asked.
Example: This often happens when a suspect's questioning was taken out of context. We have had many clients who had their interviews videotaped. Yet, the prosecutor, just like the news media, will selectively play parts of their interview to take the answers out of context, making the accused appear to in a bad light. Also, incriminating parts of interviews are properly recorded, yet the parts that would be likely to prove your innocent are sometimes mysteriously misplaced. Then, only the damaging parts get played in court.
Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the police anything incriminating and the entire interview is videotaped, your answers can still be used to crucify you if the police have any evidence, even mistaken or unreliable evidence that any of your statements are false. You never know what information the police have or what is in their file against you. Furthermore, you can never be certain what the police are investigating you for. Any evidence that makes it seem that your testimony is false, even when it is not, can be used to make you appear unreliable. If the witness was confused or had inadequate information, they will still seem more credible than you if you had told the police something contrary to what a witness says.
Example:Years ago, we represented a juvenile, being charged as an adult, who truthfully confessed to a series of thefts and assaults. Unfortunately, at the same time, his elderly grandmother, who was his guardian, had told a different story that she also thought to be true. Both the client and the grandmother stated truthful, yet contradictory stories. The primary element of the case was whether or not he had permission to drive a vehicle. Ultimately the word “permission” was related to what extent he was allowed to drive the vehicle. As a result, the sheriff added automobile theft charges to the other less severe charges. The client said he had permission to drive the car and the grandmother said he did not, but the extent of the "permission" was taken out of context because she meant he did not have consent to use the vehicle to commit another crime. Finally, he was convicted of automobile theft even though we believed he did not steal his grandmother's car; he simply used it for different reasons than his grandmother would have allowed. The prosecutor made it seem like to the jury that he stole his grandmother's vehicle.
The police do not have the authority to make deals or grant a suspect leniency in exchange for getting a statement. Many people are under the misconception that the police can get them a better deal if they confess. However, the police are not the ones that have the authority to make deals. The Prosecutor, which is the District Attorney in Superior Court or the Solicitor General in State Court is the only party that can negotiate plea agreements, grant immunity, or make deals. Therefore, it is better to wait until you have your Georgia Criminal Attorney speak with them to work out an arrangement or plea deal.
Example: We have had countless clients that have been told by police officers that if they cooperate things will go easier. It occurs in a wide range of crimes from DUI to Aggravated Assault cases. Ultimately as stated above only a prosecutor can offer a negotiated plea.
Even if a suspect is guilty and wants to confess, there may be other factors, which would justify a lesser charge. Sometimes, the police do not have as much evidence as it may appear. The police may suggest you committed the most severe crime possible when the evidence does not support it. The suspect may have committed a lesser grade of the same offense or some other offense altogether. It is important to wait to speak to an attorney before admitting any information.
Example: When a client gives a confession, the police are very good at making sure the suspect with whom they are interviewing confesses to each and every element of the offense for which they could be charged. This could lead to a person being overcharged. In many cases, we see indictments that have 10 or 15 counts, when it was a series of one single criminal act. Again, there are too many examples we have seen to list a particular case. However, when a person wants to take responsibility for what they have done, It is far better to first hire a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney to work out a plea agreement. Your Georgia Criminal Lawyer can contact the prosecutor and work out a pre-indictment plea to one or two criminal charges, not the entire series of crimes that could have potentially been charged.
Even for a completely honest and innocent person, it is challenging to tell the same story twice precisely the same way. If you told your story to the police first, and then you repeat your story in court, the chances are very high that some little details in your statement are going to change. This can happen when you are 100% truthful. A good prosecutor will pick up on these changes and will relentlessly question you about them, to make it look like you are lying. Even if it is a minor detail, evidence that you lied or were mistaken can look unfavorable to a jury.
Example: We do not have to look to the criminal law to see if this is true. If anyone remembers playing the telephone game as a child, when you line up children and whisper something in one child's ear, by the time the story goes through many different people, the story will fundamentally change. It is tough to remember exactly what happened especially after being interrogated by the police. One of the great examples in movie lore is in the movie Laura when Waldo Lydecker gives his statement to Detective Mark McPherson. When McPherson asks Lydecker to give a statement about Laura's death, and he gives a statement verbatim that he gave to other police officers on the day of her death. When questioned as to why the statement was so exact, Lydecker said he is the most misquoted person in America. The truth was that he memorized his statement to avoid being misquoted because inconsistencies in statements are commonly used by detectives and police officers to obtain a conviction. However, when looked at logically, no person can give the same statement over and over again without minor changes. That is why Waldo Lydecker memorized his statement, yet still, he was criticized for memorizing it. There is essentially no way to win when giving a statement to the police.
If you are the alleged victim of a crime and you call the police to investigate that crime, you can still be accused of some other criminal offense if they see evidence of it in plain view. You will never know what the police have in their file against you, and you will never know your actual potential criminal exposure. When you interact with a police officer, you may be providing evidence to them that may cause them to charge you with a crime that is not even under consideration against you. This is commonly referred to as the plain view doctrine. When you invite the police into your life or home, you are subject to what they see, and you are at risk therein. We have had many clients who let police into their home, and in plain view, the police will see evidence of another crime, often something drug-related. When the police see rolling papers or evidence of drug use, they will look to investigate further. As a result, inviting the police into your home can cause you to be charged with a crime, even if you are reporting that you are the victim of some other crime.
Example: We had a client who was a victim of a burglary of his home, and he invited police into his home. However, as police were looking around, there were things they saw in plain view that led them to believe there was drug trafficking in the home. They got a search warrant and eventually found a drug room, lights, scales, plastic bag, large sums of money and they uncovered an entire drug and distribution center. Just because police were there to investigate an offense that you are the victim of, you could be charged with another serious offense if they witness the evidence of that in plain view.
For these reasons and more, you should never speak to the police, for any reason, ever! As explained, it does not matter if you are innocent or guilty; it is never in your best interest to speak to the police. These are just some of the reasons why it is best to ask for an attorney and to never talk to the police! Guilty people regret talking to the police! Innocent people always regret it, as well. For more information on this topic, please check out the two videos by law school professor James Duane. Also, buy his book “You Have the Right to Remain Innocent.”
Contact a Georgia Criminal Attorney:
The time to start your best defense starts now! If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact our office today! Our Georgia Criminal Attorneys have over 50 combined years of experience; so let that experience work for you! Contact us anytime; we have people here 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect your rights! A charge is not the same as a conviction, and we never assume that you are guilty. We will work tirelessly to investigate and fight your case; so contact us today. A Georgia Criminal Defense Lawyer is always available to speak to you.