Staying Silent is Your Best Defense

by: Matt Newburg

03/04/2015 09:52 AM EST
Tags:
  criminal  
  criminal law  
  miranda  
  silent  

Everyone knows about Miranda rights and everyone knows that, when questioned by police, they do not have to talk.  But why do so many defendants talk to the police even when they might be the target of an investigation?  Because they feel pressured to do so?  They were told by the police that if they talk nothing will happen to them?  Who knows.  What is clear is that silence is the best defense available to a criminal defendant.

Typically someone comes in contact with the police in three ways.  First, the police are conducting an investigation; second, traffic stop; third, a chance encounter.  Regardless of how the contact with police was initiated, in each of these three scenarios people talk.  And they talk a lot.  Usually it is the suspects own statements that provide the necessary probable cause for the police to seek an arrest warrant.  It might seem tempting to talk with the police, especially if the officer is promising you that you won’t get charged, or that you will not get arrested, but in reality, the police will arrest you and seek charges from the county prosecuting attorney’s office.

When you are confronted by the police a criminal defendant should know their rights and follow  these simple steps:

First:  As for a lawyer as soon as you are confronted by the police—do not wait for your Miranda warnings.  Any individual who is being questioned by the police is entitled to have a lawyer present during that questioning.  But, do not wait for the police to give you your Miranda warnings to ask for a lawyer. As soon as the police ask the first question, tell them you are not answering and you want a lawyer.  Do not say another word.  Why?  Because if you re-initiate the conversation with the police, they can resume their questioning and a criminal defendant would need to reassert their right to a lawyer.   Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, or don’t have a lawyer at the time of the questioning, you are entitled to a court appointed attorney, or, you can call and hire your own attorney.

Second:  Do not talk with anyone, even friends or family who may be at the scene when the police are present.  Although you may not be talking directly to the police, they can overhear your conversation with your friend or family member.  If they overhear that conversation, not only will that friend or family member become a witness in your case, they will be testifying against you based on the statements that you made to them—and so will the police.

Third:  Have the name and contact information of an attorney handy to give to the police.  If you have the name and contact information for an attorney when the police question you, ask to call your attorney and your attorney should come out to where you are—if you have retained them—and diffuse any additional questioning with the police.

More people are charged because they spoke to the police.  If you do not talk with the police you are not giving them any additional information and the police may not have enough evidence to seek an arrest warrant.  Follow these three steps and protect your constitutional rights.  Newburg Law, PLLC offers retainer packages that include pre-charge negotiations, you will get a cell phone number for our attorney in the event the police contact you during non-business hours, and we will attend any and all questioning by the police.

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