As a Washington State criminal defense attorney, I often meet with clients after they have been arrested and charged with a crime and more often than not, they have said too much to the arresting officer, which in turn can make their case more challenging. As a defense attorney I am on my clients side and I want my clients to save themselves, thus I always advise my clients to be respectful to police but not to talk to police, keep quiet, and here are the reasons why:
5 Big Reasons NOT To Talk To Cops
1. Talking to the police will not convince them of your innocence. Some people think that if they tell the officers they are not guilty of a crime that the officer will believe their story and let them go. Wrong, that does not happen, the officer already has some reasonable cause for thinking you have committed a crime and sharing your side of the story will only lead to serious risks of saying incriminating statements. For example; “Officer I’m not drunk, I only had a few drinks with food and that was hours ago, I’m fine, I was driving safely .” That individual just told the officer that they consumed alcohol and now “I only had a few drinks” will be used against the individual during the prosecution of their DUI charge. Talking will not set you free!
2. Remaining silent does not mean you are guilty. Often people believe that not talking to law enforcement means they are admitting they are guilty. False, by not talking does not mean you are guilty, it just means you have chosen to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. You have the right to remain silent!
3. There is no benefit from admitting your guilt. Confessing your guilt of a crime to a police officer has no benefit. In fact an individual who confesses their crime to an officer will face a longer and harsher sentence than an individual who did not confess guilt and let their criminal defense attorney do the talking for them. It is much more difficult for a defense attorney to negotiate a plea bargain for an individual that has confessed to an officer of their guilt. Again, it is in a person’s best interest to remain quiet.
4. Cops embellish and exaggerate. Unfortunately, cops don’t write their police reports from an unbiased perspective, they write their reports from their own perspective. And more often than not, cops will embellish or exaggerate their reports to make themselves and their arrest appear more legitimate, which in turn makes the accused appear more guilty. For example; if a person arrested for domestic violence tells a cop, “I accidentally knocked over the table lamp.” the cop could embellish that statement in his report by writing “when I walked into the house I observed broken glass all over the floor, of which the outraged perpetrator admitted he smashed the table lamp on the ground” which paints a much more aggressive picture than what was originally said. In a police report, the cop will look like the good guy and the person charged with a crime will look like the bad guy. If you don’t talk, a cop cannot exaggerate on your statements.
5. The more times you tell a story, the harder it becomes to tell it the same. It is nearly impossible to retell a story exactly how you told it the first time, even if it is the truth. The more times you tell a story the more versions you create. If you told your story to the arresting officer you better bet the officer wrote down what you said in their police report. Now imagine your case has gone to trial where you will have to tell your story again, but under stress, in front of an audience, and with a lot of serious consequences on the line, it would be very tough to tell your story exactly how you told the arresting officer. And once you deviate from your original story, the prosecuting attorney will attack, trying to discredit you and make you look like a liar. Thus the moral of story telling is save your story for your criminal defense attorney, let your attorney talk for you, and don’t talk to cops!
This blog was inspired by the November 2014 Issue of Washington Criminal Defense, article entitled, “Top 10 reasons why you should never talk to cops!” written by Wade S. Samuelson and Professor James J. Duane.