Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Your Right to Remain Silent - Use It

Question: Is it ever appropriate to make statements to the police?

The the short answer is no. Here's why.

In our criminal justice system there are two parties: the state and the defendant. This is what is known as an adversarial system. What does this mean? The police are not your friends. The average officer starts building a case against you the second he sees you drive down the road, or look at him funny. Why help the man out? Giving a statement rarely accomplishes anything. More often than not, you are nervous, and not in any position to help yourself. Most people's hearts start beating when they realize that they were going over the speed limit when they passed a deputy on the freeway. So amplify that times 100 when an officer is staring you in the face alleging that you are drunk, or the main suspect in a burglary down the street.

The police will even try to be your friend and give you whatever you want to eat or drink in order for you to cooperate with them. It's because if you cooperate it makes their job 100% easier. They know that. You should know that too. Keep remembering this is State v. You and not State and You. They also know that if you ask for an attorney that they have to stop questioning you, so until you say the magic words, "I want to speak to an attorney" don't think they are done with you.

In the end, you may decide that you want to cooperate, but that decision should only be made after a consultation with an attorney. Don't let the officer convince you that he'll put a good word in for you with the district attorney or the judge. The only time I ever see a police officer in court saying something is when he is on the stand testifying against the defendant.

TJ Perlick-Molinari, Birdsall Law Offices, S.C.
135 W. Wells St., Ste 214, Milwaukee, WI 53203
414.831.5465 -

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