11 Reasons Not To Talk To The Police
This article might just as well be entitled “You have the right to remain silent. Use it. Say Nothing.”
This doesn’t mean “Deny having committed the crime.” It means telling the police officer that your attorney has advised you not to answer any questions, and then saying nothing else to anybody until you talk to him or her.
Recently, I was giving this advice to a potential witness, and he said, “I’ll just tell them that I don’t know anything.” This is wrong. For one thing, he did know something, so this would have been a lie. I may have wanted that witness to testify at the trial. A competent prosecutor would have discredited the witness by showing that at one point, he’d told the police he didn’t know anything, and at trial he was trying to convince the jury that he did know something.
What If The Police Don’t Read You Your Rights?
You always have the right to remain silent.
Do not be confused by the fact that sometimes, the police don’t read you your rights. Sometimes they are required to, and sometimes they’re not. But any time you are questioned by the police – whether you are under arrest, or only being detained, or you are just a witness – you always have the right to remain silent, even if the police don’t tell you so. Until or unless a judge from a court of competent jurisdiction orders you to answer questions, you have the right to remain silent. Use it. Just politely tell the police that your lawyer told you not to answer any questions.
And understand that even if you’re not asked a question, the prosecution can and will use anything you say, even to a friend or family member. A client of mine asserted his right not to answer a police detective’s questions, but spontaneously asked whether he could get the death penalty. The court allowed his question to be used as evidence against him. Say nothing.