Stop Talking to the Police!

By Cody Jordan

Being questioned by the police is certainly not a fun way to spend time.  Often, though, the actual length of time spent is as much determined by the person being questioned as it is determined by the police doing the questioning because people don’t seem to know when to stop talking.  It’s important to remember that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution gives us the ability to remain silent and not incriminate ourselves.  Countless times one of the primary pieces of evidence in a criminal proceeding is nothing short of an absolute confession or admission by the defendant.  I often wonder, “How did it get to that point?”  The answer from the defendant is almost always a story of the police saying this or that or supposedly tricking the defendant.  The police have an important job to do in our society, and they deserve the utmost respect for doing it, as they put themselves in harm’s way on a daily basis to keep peace and order.

Indeed, the job of a police officer is very hard, and it can be even harder to put together the proper evidence to turn a case over to a prosecutor.  Thus, through the years, the Supreme Court has upheld the use of various tactics used during questioning to obtain evidence against an alleged criminal.  These tactics are tools that can be used to make their job a little easier by getting a confession or admission from the alleged defendant.

What I hear most often is that a police officer said something like, “hey, we’re just talking here,” or “the evidence is already against you.”  One is way for the officer to gain confidence in the alleged criminal; the other is possibly a permissible exaggeration.  The question that comes from me at that point is something like, “well, did they read your rights?”  Almost every time the answer is yes, which means to me that it was time to stop talking.

Don’t be afraid to exercise your right to remain silent; don’t hand the police officers their case on a sliver platter.  It can be scary when a police officer is standing in front of you to say you’re are exercising your right to remain silent, but it can be a lot scarier to spend time behind bars.

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