TALK ABOUT YOUR CRIMINAL CASE... BUT ONLY WITH YOUR ATTORNEY.
You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it. This is one of the most important
ways for you to safeguard your liberty.
You have heard the saying that "everything you say can and will be used against you in a court
of law". You would probably be amazed at just how true this is. A statement that did not seem
to be in the least incriminating when you said it may end up being a key factor in you losing
your liberty. This includes statements before, during and long after your arrest.
You might be thinking that any judge or jury hearing all the facts of your case will see that you
are not guilty of a crime, so speaking freely now should not be a problem, since you have nothing
to hide. The problem with this thinking is that you cannot be sure just how many of the facts
the judge or jury will actually hear or accept as true. Criminal trials are based only on
the evidence that the judge or jury gets to hear. With some testimony or other evidence excluded
by the rules of evidence or other circumstances, your statements may take on a whole
different meaning than you ever intended or imagined.
You have the right not to make any statements that may tend to incriminate you, so give them
your name and contact information, and that of your attorney, and demand that your attorney
be present at any further questioning. It is often difficult to tell exactly when something may
be used against you, so it is advisable to talk to your lawyer before making any statements to
police or other investigators. Let law enforcement people know very clearly at a very early stage
that you want to speak with your attorney, and repeat the request until you are afforded
that opportunity. You have a right to an attorney that goes along with your right to remain silent.
It is not necessarily illegal for investigators to trick you in speaking with them. In fact, it
is a legitimate part of their job. Your case will not be dismissed simply because Law
Enforcement personnel did not advise you of your right to remain silent. It is sometimes
possible to exclude some statements due to constitutional violations, but it is much better
to avoid making the statements at all.
Anything you say to other people (other than your attorney) might also be admissible against
you; even when that person has nothing against you, and might not want to testify against
you. Telling lies is not advisable either. It is understandable that a person in fear for their life
and liberty might lie to protect themself, but if you are later shown to have lied, that can only
hurt your case; better to simply remain silent. The law says that your choice to remain silent
cannot be used against you.
When you are a criminal defendant on trial there is a very good chance that prior statements
made by you will come into evidence. It is likely in most cases that your trial attorney
will determine that it is best for you not to take the witness-stand even though that means that
you cannot explain your prior statements. It is not unusual for the prior out-of-court statements
of the defendant to be a significant factor in a trial, so I normally advise my clients not to make
any statements about the case to anyone at all during the entire process so that we are not
faced with that problem if the case goes to trial.
You have the right to remain silent. Exercise it.
INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY? OR GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT?
Whether you think you are completely innocent, mostly innocent, only guilty of something
minor, partially guilty, or guilty as charged, our legal system will likely deal with you much
like it does most other persons accused of crimes. Once an accusation has been leveled
at an individual that results in a criminal charge, it tends to take on a momentum that often
takes a whole lot of defensive legal work to slow down, if it can be done at all. If not, then it
is the state, with their seemingly unlimited resources, versus you, the accused, headed
for the courtroom.
You should not assume that those working within the justice system on the prosecution side
will ever see things your way. If they ever do, it is unlikely to be anytime soon. The information
that any one person within the system (the district attorney, the investigator, even the
alleged victim) is currently working with may be incorrect, or missing some important details
that might eventually change the way they view the case. It may take several months for
information about your case: the content of witness statements, reports, physical evidence,
results of tests, etc., to be fully received and closely examined by either side. It may take even
longer for the prosecutor to seriously consider some of the facts that you may see as pointing
to your innocence or lack of culpability. During this entire time you will not feel like you are
being treated as if you are innocent, but closer to guilty until you can show otherwise.
An experienced attorney can help you to understand the process and act as your advocate
in helping the prosecutor to see: why your case should be dismissed; why you may deserve
some special consideration due to your situation; why you should not spend time behind bars,
etc. In the end though, if the state prosecutor remains convinced that you have committed a
crime and need to be punished, then you will need to mount a strong defense.
Call (252)222-5252 for a free consultation. Philip Clarke