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Know Your Rights — Why You Shouldn’t Talk to the Police

Posted on October 15, 2019 in criminal defense
Don't talk to the police

An unfortunately common misconception is the belief that you can talk your way out of trouble with the police. The reality is that you can’t. Whether you’re suspected of a DUI, under investigation for domestic violence, or pulled over for a minor driving offense, talking to the police will not help you. In fact, the vast majority of the time, saying anything to the police (even the truth) will only do damage to you and your case.

At The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, we firmly believe in your right to remain silent, and we encourage you to do just that. In the words of 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.”

We take pride in offering aggressive defense to people taking on the justice system. And even in cases with clients that have made the mistake of talking to law enforcement, we will find your best defense. That being said, do yourself a favor; Don’t talk to the police. Here are 3 reasons why:

Top 3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Speak With Police

1. Anything You Say Can Be (and Usually is) Used Against You in Court

Many people think the police can’t use their testimony against them unless the officer has first given the standard Miranda warnings. This misconception has led many people to accidentally share too much with the police — after all, if the cop hasn’t Mirandized you, then you can say whatever you want, right?

Wrong. The truth is that often statements made before a Miranda warning are just as admissible as those made after a Miranda warning. Police are highly trained observers and interrogators, and from the very beginning of your interaction with a cop, you can be sure they are noting everything you say.

2. People Usually Share Too Much

A lot of people are concerned that if they don’t share their side of the story then the cop will arrest them. This is a common misunderstanding of the justice system. Getting arrested isn’t what you need to worry about, it’s the possibility of getting charged with a crime that you should be trying to mitigate.

So when you are being questioned by a police officer, think long-term — are you trying to avoid an arrest? Or, is it better to get arrested and be able to exercise your right to remain silent until you can speak with an attorney about what details you should and shouldn’t share?

You may think that cooperating with the police is the best way to demonstrate your innocence, but the reality is that the vast majority of people who speak to a police officer without speaking to an attorney first end up sharing too much and damaging their case in the process.

3. If You’re Innocent, Even Sharing the Truth Can Make You a Suspect

Even if you think you are sharing the truth, the stress and adrenaline rush of being questioned by the police can make you misremember, reveal bias, or accidentally contradict yourself.

Your innocence does not inherently protect you, which is why it is better to remain silent than risk giving a faulty truth.

It’s a lot easier to give no statement than it is to try to correct a misstatement in the courtroom. So don’t give statements until you have time to consult with an expert criminal defense attorney.

You Have The Right To Remain Silent

What should you do when a police officer starts asking you questions?

Fortunately, in the United States, the Fifth Amendment guarantees your right against self-incrimination. This means you have a constitutional right to remain silent — a right that you should take advantage of.

Yes, even if you’re innocent. Thousands of innocent people have unintentionally incriminated themselves by sharing what they truly believed to be the truth.

To exercise your 5th Amendment right in Washington State, you should say “I’m exercising my right to remain silent” and then don’t say anything else. If you’ve been detained, you are obligated to follow the officer’s instructions, but you don’t have to answer their questions.

If you’ve been pulled over by police, you are obligated to identify yourself and exit the vehicle if asked to do so. But beyond providing your driver’s license, insurance, and registration, you do not have to answer the officer’s questions.

Calmly tell the officer, “I am exercising my right to remain silent” and wait to answer questions until you have an attorney present.

Avoid answering questions like, “How much beer have you had to drink tonight? Which bar did you come from?” Questions like these are meant to trick you into incriminating yourself.

If you are arrested, stay calm, silent, and patiently wait for your attorney to arrive.

You Have The Right To Ask For An Attorney

Another powerful right given to you by the Constitution is your right to ask for an attorney. So when you are being detained, arrested, or interviewed, make sure that you stay silent, except to tell the police your name, that you are exercising your right to remain silent, and that you want to speak with your attorney.

If you are currently in legal trouble and would like to consult with an expert criminal defense attorney, contact Morgan Fletcher Benfield today to get a criminal defense lawyer’s opinion on what you should and should not tell the police about your case.