Most people are familiar with the so-called Miranda Rights. You’ve heard them on TV and in movies.
You have the right to remain silent.
Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
You have the right to speak to an attorney, and to have an attorney present during any questioning.
If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you.
This post will focus on the second of these listed rights: That anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.
Let’s start by acknowledging a basic human impulse when it comes to dealing with police: We want to tell our side of the story. We want to explain the circumstances and immediately address whatever issue the police are investigating.
Do NOT fall into this trap.
The fact of the matter is that if you have been stopped by police, and they are asking you questions, they are most likely investigating whether and to what extent there has been a violation of law. Your own statements are frequently the officers’ best weapon. And if you fall victim to your own impulse to explain why you did not violate the law, more often than not, you will have sealed your own fate.
Your statements to police officers are evidence. That evidence can be good or bad, but we attorneys rarely see those statements turn out to be good evidence. In this age of body-cams, the old he-said-she-said conundrum isn’t quite as common as it once was. Your statements, then, are often preserved on a recording, meaning that if you make an admission (whether you knew it or not), that may be your whole case up in smoke.
Because your statements are evidence in an officer’s investigation, it is important to remember the lessons discussed in Part I of this series: Exercise your right to remain silent. Let’s not do the police’s work for them. Your statements to police will be used against you. And you have the Constitutional right not to give testimony against yourself.
But regardless of whether you said anything to police, an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help. If you have been charged with a crime, please reach out to us for a consultation.