It has been more apparent in my practice now that many people think it’s a smart idea to talk to cops instead of invoking your right to remain silent and asking to speak to an attorney. Here’s the bottom line, more often than not, talking to a cop will not help your case and will only make it worse.
I know many of us feel that we MUST talk to cops to explain the situation. We’re afraid of authority figures and many of us are afraid that if we don’t speak, the cops will take us in and make life harder on us. Or, maybe some of us feel that we are just really clever and can talk ourselves out of any situation. Yes, maybe they will put you in jail for the night or make you bail out instead of releasing you with a signed cite. Possible. But if you still give them more information, you’re just making your situation worse. Now, instead of a night in jail, you’re looking at a few years in prison. Sometimes cops don’t have enough for an arrest and will try to get more information out of you. If you give them that information, you’re giving them more reasons to arrest you. Just shut up.
Another misconception is that the police will charge you with a more serious crime. Wrong. The police write the report and forwards it to the prosecutor. The District Attorney is the one who ultimately makes the decision about whether or not to press charges.
Here is something that most people have heard from TV shows:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say or do can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to speak to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights as they have been read to you?”
Next they will typically say something along the lines of
“Now knowing these rights, do you still wish to speak to me?”
Most of my clients say “Yes”
Please say “no!” and say that you wish to remain silent and wish to speak with an attorney.
Here is the problem: most people don’t think that what they are saying can hurt them. It can. The warning even tells you “Anything you say …can and will be held against you in court…” (Emphasis added). They just told you they will use it against you, so why are you giving them more ammunition?
What to do
- Say you wish you remain silent and ask to speak to an attorney. Saying those “magic words” doesn’t get you out of trouble, but it oftentimes prevents the situation from getting worse. The cops might not honor it and keep badgering you (They are not suppose to after you invoke your right to remain silent and ask for an attorney). So it may not work 100% the time, but it works most of the time.
- Be respectful. Understand that they are doing their job but you are also exercising your rights. I am doing mine by raising awareness to your constitutional rights. We all have a job to do, mine is to protect your constitutional rights.
- Shut up and call and attorney, preferably a criminal defense attorney. If you are in an emergency situation at 3am, you can’t get a hold of anyone, and you have a second cousin who is a probate attorney, call them!
If you or someone you know has been arrested, have them contact the Law Offices of Lisa Wong at 858-609-9664