Just Shut Your Mouth!

KD Law Group |

Criminal man with handcuffs in interrogation room being interviewed after committed a crimeBy: Ben Hall

When I was a police officer, I would get warrant requests denied by the prosecutor’s office for a follow-up to get an interview with the suspect. Why? Let’s assume he won’t talk to me or denies involvement, now I resubmit the warrant request and we are in the same boat.

Fast forward to becoming a prosecutor, the answer is very simple: admissions are golden for a prosecutor! If a suspect or defendant admits to something, even something seemingly “innocent,” it can turn an iffy case into a rock-solid one—for the prosecutor! As a prosecutor, when I reviewed a warrant request, I knew we could issue the charge and we would get a conviction if the suspect admitted to the act. There have been many cases where absent the admission, a prosecutor wouldn’t be able to get a conviction. They might still issue the charge, but the likelihood of conviction remained in the balance. And prosecutors don’t want to take cases to trial where the likelihood of conviction isn’t high.

As a defense attorney, a prosecutor, or even a police officer, I can’t tell you how many times people walk themselves into a prison or jail because they talked to the police. The police are doing a job—they’re there to get information and build a case against someone, and that someone is you! Please, just remain quiet! There is nothing you can say that will help your situation. Nothing. In the end, the police will do what they do, the prosecutor will decide what they decide, and the only thing you talking to the police will help, is getting a conviction against you.

Do not try to outsmart the police. Police are allowed to lie to you, trick you (to some extent), lie about evidence, and employ certain tactics that lull you into a sense of safety or even doom to get you to start talking. Just don’t! You will not beat them. You will not outsmart them. One example of people trying to outsmart police occurs when they think, oh I’ll hear what they have to say but I won’t say anything and just get an attorney. What inevitably happens is that once the police start giving their version of things, people can’t resist chiming in with their version of the story, and just like that, you’ve given the police enough to arrest you and probably given the prosecutor enough to convict you. 

Now, to effectively invoke your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney, you do need to say something. So, I want you to remember these exact words: “I will not talk to you without my attorney.”

Next time police come to ask you questions, “just to get your side of the story,” your response needs to be nothing more than “I will not talk to you without my attorney.” Your next step needs to be to call an attorney right away.

I invoke my right to remain silent and want my attorney present. I think I want my attorney here.
Please contact my attorney, I will not speak to you. Should I get an attorney?
I respectfully decline to cooperate with your investigation at this time, please contact my attorney. Go f**k yourself!
I will not talk to you without my attorney. I’ll talk to you now and then decide if I need an attorney.
Do not contact me without my attorney.  [saying nothing]

In case I wasn’t clear, just shut your mouth!