Should you ever talk to the police to exonerate yourself?

May 2, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

Should you ever talk to the police to exonerate yourself? Professor James Duane explains why you should never talk to the police. Ever. Even if you are completely innocent.  Sounds like good advice to me.

It’s not just a clever defense lawyer tactic.  It’s a Constitutional right that has been upheld repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court.


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Category: law and order, Psychology Cognition

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. Tony Coyle says:

    I watched the video. A very interesting take on a subject that I've never really thought much about (being largely [and boringly] law-abiding).

    I had always thought that 'pleading the fifth' would tend to incriminate me further (in the sense of – if you have nothing to hide…) but after listening tp Prof Duane's lecture I'm convinced. But I would say one thing in addition to the pleading of the fifth… I'd mention the precedent of Prof Duane, and Justice Harvey(?).

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Tony: I had the same reaction to this lecture. Even though I'm trained as a lawyer, I'm boringly well-behaved and my gut reaction is that if I were innocent, I'd be best to come forward to enlighten the police officers. This video will make me think thrice before opening my mouth, even if I were entirely innocent. He is right, that you can always make some sort of statement, when things settle down. Why rush it and risk that something would be misinterpreted?

  2. glinda says:

    Good advice if you're innocent. I hope anyone guilty of a serious crime keeps right on blurting, though.

    I've had to talk to the police to give evidence against a pedophile, and I've never for one second regretted it. I stuck to what I knew to be fact. And it ended with him being stopped from raping his little girls any more (not by my testimony alone, of course; that would not have been appropriate).

  3. Tim Hogan says:

    Always keep your mouth shut, ALWAYS! The police are there to arrest or have someone charged and it’s YOU! You have a right to remain silent, execise it freely. IMMEDIATELY tell anyone that you want a lawyer and chose to excercise your rights to counsel and to remain silent and NOTHING MORE!

    Even answers to “routine booking questions” can and will be used against you in a court of law! I have had conversations about booking come into evidence in a case where my client was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in the federal penitentiary where McVeigh was held.

    Generally, what your lawyer says may not come into evidence against you. It’s so bad, I’d almost recommend that average citizens carry some sort of “Sixth and Fifth Amendment Invocation of Rights” card with them to be left alone if picked up by the cops.

  4. Mike M. says:

    Tim – Absolutely right. One should always silently ask oneself, “Is this person doing the questioning “for me” or “against me”? What is this person’s motivation or goal here? Does this person have my best interests in mind, or does this person wish me psychological, physical, or legal harm?” If the answers that come back to you are negative in essence, then say nothing of any interest or substance to this person. Be a rock, be as boring as possible. Lie if necessary, but otherwise stay wise and stay silent. Always look out for #1, the real authority in any situation – that’d be You.

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