SHUT UP ALREADY! BY COREY L. SCOTT “ANY LAWYER WORTH HIS SALT WILL TELL THE SUSPECT IN NO UNCERTAIN TERMS TO MAKE NO STATEMENTS TO THE POLICE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.” U.S. SUPREME COURT JUSTICE, ROBERT JACKSON Make no statements to the police under any circumstances. Justice Jackson’s words, my constant advice to all who will listen. Believe me, you’d be surprised at how many simply don’t listen. This really is not rocket science: When police have a reason to arrest someone because a crime has been committed, they make the arrest. If they want to talk to you, it probably means they don’t have enough info to arrest you. That is until you beat a path to their door and help them, arrest you. I know to some, this sounds far fetched but I speak from experience. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive a call from a prospective client that goes something like this: Hi Mr. Scott, I need your advice about something, the police are investigating XYZ crime and Detective So Slick just called me and wants me to come in and make a statement, what should I do? Or Mr. Scott, you probably don’t remember me but you represented my cousin last year on his dope case, they call me Lil Man, I met you at the City-County building, I’m calling because the police “are trying to say” that I was involved in that robbery that was on the news last week, Detective Lockemup wants to hear my side of the story, how much would you charge to go to the police station with me? Or perhaps the worst, Mr. Scott this is Mrs. Dum Dum, I wish I would’ve called you sooner but I took my son to talk to the police and they locked him up, they told me they just wanted to clear his name and then he would be free to go. I have had hundreds of conversations like this and heard just about every bad outcome imaginable from people “going to clear their name” or “just going to tell the truth” because they didn’t do anything and had nothing to hide. But let me tell you something I have never heard: Mr. Scott, I took my son to talk to the police and I am so glad I did, everything worked out just fine. I think somehow people get things confused, the word says, you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free, NOT you shall talk to the police and they shall set you free. There IS a difference. Especially when the police are committed to locking you up. Listen, as I once heard a preacher say, let me set somebody free. Lean in, listen closely: nothing good comes from talking to the police. Point blank and period. Here’s why. The 5th Amendment of the United States Constitutes gives you protection from being required to make any statement that might somehow incriminate you (assist in finding you guilty of a crime). Problem is, like any right, it’s up to you to use it and you are always free to waive (give up) the right. So although you have protection, you can choose to ignore the protection and talk to the police anyway. If the fact that you have protection against self-incriminating statements is not enough, here are some practical reasons not to talk to police. First, please understand that you’re not going to talk your way out of being arrested. If the police believe that you have committed a crime, you are not going to convince them otherwise. The only thing you will likely do, is attempt to convince them and stumble into a possible confession or at the very least, say something that helps the police fill holes in their case. Second, if you are guilty, don’t admit guilt with no benefit in return. If you voluntarily confess to a crime to the police on the front end, there is no incentive for the State to offer you anything for pleading guilty later. So if you must confess, wait until you have an attorney to assist you, so that your attorney can negotiate for you and get some benefit in return for your confession. This could mean that you save yourself time and money because you got a good deal in exchange for pleading guilty. Third, even if you talk to the police and manage not to make any incriminating statements, your statement can sometimes be used against you anyway when used along with other facts or circumstances that together strengthen the State’s case against you. Fourth, don’t allow yourself to fall victim to the thinking that if I don’t talk to the police, I will look like guilty because it will seem like I have something to hide. It is better to look guilty, than be found guilty because you talked to the police and got yourself convicted because you were more concerned with how you may have looked, instead of doing what was in your best interest. Finally, if the police do not have enough to arrest you and you simply shut up, there is a chance that everything will blow over and you will never be charged because the police simply couldn’t gather the necessary evidence to arrest you. So in closing, if Detective Lockemup ever calls you asking you to make a statement, simply tell him, “sorry detective but I have talked to an attorney and I have been advised that it is not in my best interest to make any statement.” That’s how you do yourself a favor. Shut up already!!