Your Right To Remain Silent

We have all heard the warnings the police give to suspects when they arrest them on television: "You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.  You have the right to an attorney.  If you cannot afford an attorney, on will be provided to you."  This familiar recitation of right is commonly referred to as the Miranda warnings and they are often  as misunderstood as they are well-known. 

Many defendants in a criminal case have made admissions to the police that ultimately hurt the defendant's case.  When asked why he or she made the admission to the police, the common answer is that the person did not know that they could refuse to speak to the police about the crime in question, or that they did not want the police to think poorly of them,  or that they will appear guilty if they invoke their right to silence and a lawyer, or that they think that the police will help them out if they are cooperative. 

NEWS FLASH #1:  If the police are questioning you about a crime, they already think you did it and nothing you say to them is going to convince them otherwise. 

NEWS FLASH #2: If you make an incriminating admission to the police, they have leverage over you and you are now wholly dependent on the police to cut you a break. 

NEWS FLASH #3:  No matter how friendly the police officer appears to be, it is his job to collect evidence of crimes and his friendly questioning is one method used to collect such evidence. 

NEWS FLASH #4: If the police are asking you to admit you committed a crime, they probably do not have much evidence against you they need your incriminating statement to shore up a weak case. 

The only thing making a statement to the police is going to do is possibly give them more information to use against you later.  You will find that in most cases, a defendant speaking to the police has at best done nothing to help the defendant's case and at worst, has made the case against the defendant much stronger. 

On the other hand, invoking your right to silence precludes the police from getting any incriminating statements from you AND your invocation of your right to silence cannot be used against you at trial.  This means that the prosecution will NOT be able to introduce evidence of your silence, for example: "Officer, when you asked the defendant if he committed the crime, what was his response?"  Officer:  "He did not deny the accusation.". 

If you are the target of an investigation, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately and do not try to talk yourself out of it on your own.  You have rights to silence and counsel for a reason.  Protect yourself by invoking those rights. 

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