Never Talk to the Police
Know Your Rights When Stopped by the Police
When a police officer or someone from law enforcement wants to talk to you, most of the time they are conducting a criminal investigation and want to make an arrest. It is in your best interest not to cooperate and talk to the police, unless you are the victim of a crime. In fact, you have a Fifth Amendment Constitutional right to remain silent. The Fifth Amendment provides that "no person...shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Exercise your right to remain silent at all times!
California does not have a "Stop and Identify" law requiring individuals to present identification to law enforcement. However, there are specific instances where you are required to provide an ID, such as a DUI stop or if you are detained or arrested.
If a police officer approaches you on the street or as you are entering your car, you can ask the officer, "Am I free to go?" If the officer says "yes," then you should leave. However, if he says "no," then consider yourself a suspect and it is at this point that you should exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. The officer cannot and will not arrest you for not answering their questions. Do not try to talk the police officer into not arresting you. He will arrest you if he has probable cause to do so.
If the officer wants to search you it is important that you tell the officer that you do not consent to the search. The officer may decide to search you anyway, but it is important that you make it clear to the officer that you are not agreeing to the search by saying “I do not consent to the search.”
Being aware of your rights and not speaking to law enforcement can protect you and the strength of your defense, should charges be filed against you. By not talking to police, you give your criminal defense attorney a better opportunity to prepare an effective defense on your behalf.
Arrested or under investigation? Contact Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to discuss your case!
Reasons Why You Should Not Talk To The Police
You've likely seen cases on the news where suspects make the prosecutor's case themselves by saying too much. When you speak to police, you risk confessing or just providing them with information they can use to charge you with a crime. Even if you don't think what you're saying is important, the best thing to do is remain silent. To put things simply, talking to the police cannot help you.
You are at a disadvantage when talking to the police. They are trained in getting admissions and confessions from people. You should know that:
- What you say to the police during a police stop CAN be used against you.
- Police officers may attempt to mislead you into incriminating yourself.
- Officers may misunderstand what you say, intentionally or accidentally.
- You may admit to knowing some facts which can be used to prove your involvement or knowledge of a crime.
- Some people feel the need to lie to the police during the interview, which may put you under suspicion, and later affect your credibility (whether a judge or jury believes you).
- The police officer may put words into your mouth and claim that you made incriminating statements, when in reality, you did not.
- Police do not have the authority to make deals with you or give you leniency. That is up to the prosecutor.
- Even if you believe you are guilty, there is no need to rush into a confession. Circumstances may change and a criminal defense attorney may be able to spot flaws or errors in your case that can be used at a later time to have your charges reduced or dismissed.
- Even if you believe you are innocent, facts can be misconstrued; you may tell a white lie, and you may say something that may be used against you if you decide to talk.
Common Scenarios Used by Law Enforcement
Police interviews are aimed at producing one thing and one thing only: a CONFESSION. The best response to a law enforcement officer when they want to interview you is to request to speak a lawyer or simply say nothing at all.
Some of the more common scenarios used by police to interview suspects are:
In this scenario the police officer and/or the detective get in the suspect's face and tells the suspect that all the evidence points to the suspect and they know the suspect committed the crime. The officer may lie to the suspect and say the suspect's DNA or fingerprints were found at the crime scene.
The officer continually tells the suspect they know that he/she committed the crime and that he/she should just admit it and move on. The officer is pressing the suspect into a confession. The officer may even get the suspect to offer a face-saving explanation as to why he did it and this allows the suspect to minimize the crime.
Here the officer will tell the suspect that he / she should apologize to the victim in order to complete his investigation. The officer will request the suspect write out a full apology letter which includes all the details of the crime.
The officer tells the suspect he will present this apology letter to the judge as well. When the suspect does this, he is essentially providing the officer with a full confession of his crime. Having a confession like this provides the prosecutor with a slam dunk case for a conviction.
Your Side of the Story
In this scenario the officer tells the suspect he wants to complete his investigation and in order to do so, the officer needs to include the suspect's version of events. The officer makes the suspect feel at ease by suggesting that everything will be okay once he gives his side of the story. This is not the case. The officer will compare the suspect's story with the evidence he gathered previously. The officer will likely find that the suspect's story may be full of holes, admissions, and inconsistencies which can later be used against him.
In this scenario the officer asks the suspect for his version of the facts. He encourages the suspect to just keep talking and most suspects do continue talking because they are nervous and think by talking to the officer and giving a believable story that they can talk themselves out of the situation and avoid being arrested. Then the officer responds by telling the suspect that he knows he is lying because he has witnesses that will contradict the suspect.
The officer may be lying and in essence testing the suspect. Officers are allowed to lie to the suspect. It is part of their interviewing technique. The suspect is intimidated by the officer's response and breaks down and starts confessing to the crime or his involvement in the crime.
How to Exercise Your Rights
The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution gives you the right to remain silent and not incriminate yourself. You should exercise this right and never, under any circumstances, speak to a police officer.
- Invoke your 5th Amendment right by stating you do not wish to talk without first consulting a lawyer.
- DO NOT agree to an interview.
- DO NOT attempt to make a deal with an officer.
- DO NOT make any comment or statement.
Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys
Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners is available to respond immediately to your call for help. If a police officer, sheriff's deputy, detective, or Federal Agent wants to speak to you, call Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners immediately. We have successfully assisted many of our clients in these types of matters.
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