The Attention, Defense, and Respect You Deserve!

Call Your Lawyer Before You Speak

There is one simple rule to remember when questioned by the police: say nothing without legal counsel present.  No matter what a detective or patrolman tells a suspect, the Fifth Amendment is in place to protect criminal defendants from having to testify if doing so might incriminate them.  It also covers those interviews leading up to a possible court date.

Once a person has been read his Miranda rights, anything he says can and will be held against him.  It does not matter if he was nervous or misspoke, a case can be built against him based upon his own statements.  Law enforcement knows that there is a window of time before a suspect asks for legal counsel during which their case will be bolstered by him talking.

No matter how intimidated a suspect may feel as police press him to make a statement, those Fifth Amendment rights are his protection.  Whether he needs help with an assault case or DWI, a suspect should wait until counsel arrives to make any decisions regarding what he is going to say.

The same rule applies to putting anything in writing.  If a suspect is asked to write a statement, he should politely refuse, claiming his Fifth Amendment right.  There are a number of reasons a suspect should wait for legal counsel.

  • He might admit to more than he should.  For example, if a suspect shot someone in self-defense, he has automatically admitted to shooting someone.  Any case the police planned on building was just built for them.
  • He might want to relieve a guilty conscience.  If a suspect wants to confess something, he should only confess it to his lawyer.
  • He could be misunderstood by detectives.  People are known to say things the wrong way – particularly when they’re under pressure.  Detectives are human and don’t always have a 100 percent grasp on what’s being said.  Worse yet, because they are looking to close a case, they could hear what the suspect has to say with a biased ear.
  • Parts of the conversation will be mentally deleted.  When a suspect begins a conversation with detectives, much of the conversation goes unrecorded.  Later, when the detectives try to “recall” what was said, they will tend to remember the parts that felt consistent with guilt.
  • Once a suspect has freely spoken without legal counsel present, he has opened himself up to a detective saying whatever he wants to say about the conversation.  In short, he can lie.

There is one rule and one rule only when being questioned by the police:  say nothing until an attorney arrives.

For more information on DWI or assault attorney’s in St. Paul or Minneapolis, contact Eric Rice at 651-998-9660.