3 Reasons to Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent

Person being pulled over and arrested

We have seen it time and again, clients come to us after they have talked to the police.  Each client had good intentions in speaking with the police; they thought it would help their case. Maybe the officer said “If you confess now, we’ll go easy on you” or maybe the person just thought they could explain their innocence. We’ll tell you time and again, don’t talk to the police without your lawyer present. Here are just three of the reasons why.

You will not convince them you are innocent. 99% of the time if the police are questioning you, they suspect you have been involved in a crime. They will ask you questions in a way to induce you to admit to something. Let’s take a DUI for example. If you’ve been pulled over for a DUI but you know you are not beyond the legal limit, you may be tempted to explain your situation away. “Officer, I’m not drunk I only had a few beers today, I’m sober now.” While you may think that you come across credibly because you were honest, the police officer just heard evidence of a DUI. The officer will not let you go on your way – he/she will perform sobriety tests and pursue evidence of a DUI. Imagine the consequences with even more serious crimes.

Exercising your right to remain silent does not mean you are guilty. Many people, too many in fact, think that if they exercise their right to remain silent then it will prove they are guilty. In fact, the government cannot use your act of exercising your constitutional right to remain silent against you – unlike how they can and will use your words against you if you do not remain silent. Remain silent and wait for the advice of your attorney. There may be a time to speak later down the road but until you have legal advice, don’t do it. Once you say those words, they will be used against you and you can’t take them back.

Confessing has no benefit. Sure, once your attorney has investigated the case, there may be a time that you decide to plead guilty or confess to something. But until an attorney has advised you of the benefits – and risks – of doing so, don’t confess. It is very difficult to take back a confession after you’ve made it. You have absolutely no reason to believe the officer if he says “if you confess now, we’ll go easy on you.” Just don’t do it.

If you’ve been charged with a crime and spoken to the police, make sure you contact an attorney as soon as possible to mitigate any unintended consequences of doing so.