From the desk of Brian Manchester, Esq:
Upon first meeting with a client and hearing their story, the first question I ask is “have spoken to the police?” If they tell me that they have, I then ask “have you told the police what you told me? Often enough, the answer to both of these questions is yes.
When I hear a yes to either or both of those questions, I cringe. Why? Because talking to the police gives control of my client’s story to the police. They may have heard something wrong. They may have written a note about what my client said that was incorrect. They may misperceive what my clint said – or, in rare cases, outright lie about it.
Our founding fathers were very smart. They created the Fifth Amendment to the constitution for a reason. Please follow it.
When my clients remain silent, we then control the narrative. We get to control what we say, when and to whom. We can decide to say nothing at all. It gives my clients and me the power to investigate leads, gather evidence, and talk to experts first before the police talk to them. There is EVERY advantage to remaining silent and NO DISADVANTAGES to it.
Client’s often ask me something like this: “Well if I don’t talk to them. They will think I am guilty!” The police are speaking to you because they suspect or believe that you might have done something illegal. Police are not bored. They don’t go around talking to random people about crimes. If an officer suspects you then they want to talk to you. DO NOT do it. Do not give them an advantage. You can’t talk your way out of anything. Being questioned by an officer is a stressful thing. Think back to times in your life when you were stressed. Do you express yourself clearly when you are stressed? Do you get all of the details right when you are stressed? Do you stutter or trip over your words when you are stressed? These are all things that you do not want to do when you speak to police officers.
Once I represented a man charged with murder and the prosecutor wanted the death penalty. The police never could have charged my client without him giving a statement to them. Fortunately, I was able to have the death penalty thrown out before trial and at trial he was convicted of third rather than first-degree murder. My client talking to the police almost cost him his life. Do not do it. Also do not lie and try to talk yourself out of something. That just makes it worse and if you have not done anything, it makes you look guilty and makes the defense of your case extremely hard.
There are many reasons why remaining silent is the only way to go. I could go on for pages. However, in all my years of practice, I have never found a better explanation than that offered by the video below. This is a lecture given by James Duane, a professor from Regent University School of Law. Please watch the whole thing:. It may be the best and most helpful video you have ever watched.