Every adult in America has heard of their Miranda rights in one form or another. You can’t turn on the TV without hearing a detective telling the poor hapless soul that he has just handcuffed that “You have a right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.” Miranda rights are built into the county’s popular culture, but few people really understand what those rights mean. In a nutshell, they mean that you don’t have to talk to the police.
In any criminal investigation, the police are looking for one thing: evidence. The information that they uncover in their investigation will be used to attempt to prove your guilt. Even if the police aren’t specifically investigating you, your statement can lead them to a place where they are investigating you. The police are never, and I mean never, interviewing you to try to prove you innocent.
Police are specifically trained to elicit incriminating statements from suspects. They take courses on interrogation techniques. They practice what they learn, and there is a science to it. They are allowed to play good-cop, bad-cop. They are allowed to outright lie. They are allowed to tell you that your co-defendant has already confessed and thrown you under the bus, so if you want to save your skin you had better do the same in a hurry. Once you do, the prosecutor can use anything and everything that you’ve said to prove you guilty in court.
The good news is that you never have to speak to the police. You can assert your Miranda rights to remain silent. You can assert your 5th Amendment rights not to incriminate yourself. America has protections for its citizens, but you have to take advantage of those protections in order to be free from coercive police interrogations.
Every year in America, there are hundreds of false confessions. There are dozens if not hundreds of cases of defendants who spend decades of their lives in prison based on their confession, only to be exonerated late in their lives by DNA evidence. These innocent prisoners fell victim to police interrogations that were intended to produce confessions, whether those confessions were true or not.
If a police officer or detective wants to interview you, then they are looking for evidence to use against you, as the lawyers at Hebets & McCallin can explain. If they already have enough evidence to arrest you, then they will arrest you regardless of whether you cooperate with them or not. All you’re doing by agreeing to speak to them is giving them the potential to use your words against you in court. If an officer asks to interview you, your first call should be to an experienced criminal defense attorney. From there, you follow their lead.