Before deciding to waive your 5th amendment right and talk to the police, contact an experienced attorney from the law offices of Manchester & Associates.
“[Any] lawyer worth [their] salt will tell [their client] in no uncertain terms to make no statement to the police under any circumstances.“Justice Robert Jackson
The 5th Amendment allows those in police custody to remain silent. Many find this difficult based on the idea that remaining silent when you have nothing to hide makes you seem guilty. However, there are no laws of the United States that allow for a presumption of guilt when you remain silent. You have a right to remain silent, and you should exercise it to its full extent.
While you may think that speaking to the police will help them solve the case, or will allow you to plead your innocence, speaking with police is actually giving them evidence on you that they can and WILL use against you if charges are filed. There is no way that talking to the police will help you: you cannot talk your way out of being arrested. Professor James Duane says in “Don’t Talk to the Police,” the biggest issue with talking with the police is you may accidentally admit wrongdoing and that admission will be difficult to take back later.
Exercise Your Rights.
Remember that police have the power; you are not on an even playing field. The police are allowed to lie to you during an interrogation – they do not need to tell you all of the information they have or whether they are planning to charge you. The police utilize a lot of interrogation tactics, and they are often very successful at getting statements. As you are talking, they are putting together evidence on you, even if it is not clear to you that what you are saying is incriminating. Alec Baldwin recently had first-hand experience with the power of police interrogation after the shooting accident that killed a cinematographer and injured a director on the set of his recent movie. He waived his right to an attorney and talked to the police for hours, answering their questions and providing his own insight into what happened. After that interview, the prosecutor announced plans to charge him with involuntary manslaughter.
If your interrogation leads to charges and you do end up going to trial, it is unlikely that your entire statement will be relayed to the jury. The Rules of Evidence allow police and prosecutors to present the most damaging statements in court, while allowing them to leave out the statements that show your innocence. Professor Duane says, “What you say, can and will be used against you, but it will never be used for you.” Further, if you make contradictory statements, the jury will expect you to explain those contradictions.
Admitting anything to the police will not help your case. Even if entirely innocent and only telling the truth, any information you give to the police will be helpful to them in convicting you. 29% of the 375 people exonerated by the Innocence Project were found to be convicted in part based on a false confession. The cornerstone of our justice system is the presumption of innocence that is afforded to defendants. This presumption of innocence is a burden that has to be overcome by the prosecution. Do not lighten their burden by providing information to the police.
Constitutional rights, including the right to remain silent, exist to protect citizens from the government. The 5th amendment should not just be used by those who did something wrong. Anytime you are asked to speak to the police about an incident that you are involved in, say only one thing: “I want a lawyer from Manchester & Associates.”