Sshhhhh "You Have The Right To Remain Silent..." But Should You?

It is human nature to want to explain oneself to others. Under the wrong circumstances, that inclination to explain can ruin a criminal case. If the police come to your door with questions or, worse, you are placed under arrest, do not try to explain away a situation. Law enforcement is not listening to you for your side of the story. They are listening for admissions and evidence that might land you in jail. Under these circumstances, it best for you to remain silent. You do not have to speak with them, however, and you should never try to explain yourself if under any kind of interrogation.

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You do have rights under the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment frees you from having to answer questions posed by government officials, like the police. The Sixth Amendment establishes your right to have an attorney present for any such questioning. So, what should you do if the police come knocking? Always be polite and non-confrontational with law enforcement. They are likely just doing their job and there is no reason to escalate an already uncomfortable situation. Simply tell them that you want your attorney present for any questioning and that you have nothing to say. All questioning should stop at that point.

What if they arrest you? The rule applies even more so if you are arrested. Emotions run high, the inclination to explain becomes a need to get out of trouble. Resist! Get an attorney who can calmly navigate you through these waters! And remember, REMAIN silent. If you start voluntarily talking after invoking your rights, you’ve waived them. Unless and until your lawyer is sitting next to you, you are to use the time at the police station for meditation, not communication.

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Charles Huff
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Family Law and Criminal Law Attorney