It happens almost every day. I am reading a crime report and I get to the section where the police officer describes reading my client his Miranda rights and asking my client if he wishes to make a statement. I usually hold my breath for a split second before reading what my client decided to do.
More times than not, statistically speaking, my clients have chosen to speak with the officers. 100% of the time, I did not represent them yet and they had no lawyer. Most of the time, my clients said something damaging to their case.
My advice is always the same: Do NOT talk to the police. Be polite, but be firm. When an officer reads you your rights and asks if you want to talk, say something like “I am not making a statement. I am requesting the assistance of an attorney.”
The problem is a lot of people — understandably — want to tell their side of the story and some even think they can talk their way out getting arrested. Make no mistake — once an officer has read you your rights, you’re getting arrested. There is nothing that will change that. When the officer asks you if you want to talk, he’s not trying to evaluate whether or not to arrest you or release you. He’s trying to get you to say something incriminating that can be used against you in court.
Heck, he just said “anything you say today can and will be used against you in a court of law.” But because we probably just came out of an emotional or adrenaline-filled situation of being stopped/detained by an officer, handcuffed, placed in the back of a patrol car, and possibly taken to be booked at the local jail, we feel like we need to tell someone our side of the story. The desire to be heard and the desire to explain is understandable. As difficult as it might be in those emotional moments after an arrest, SAVE IT FOR YOUR LAWYER.
If you tell the officer nothing, your words can’t be twisted and used against you later. Ever hear the phrase “taken out of context”? Believe me, the police and the District Attorney will take everything you say out of context in an effort to make it seem as if you are admitting guilt.
If you are ever arrested or asked to make a statement about an incident in which you might have some criminal liability do the following: