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Crime.Justice & America - Arrested? What's Next? - "You have the right to remain silent!" by Randy Moore

"Better education means better justice. Better education means a higher standard for government to insure proper prosecution and incarceration. Better education means reduced recidivism, and in turn, less financial burden on society".

 "You have the right to remain silent!" by Randy Moore

You have the right to remain silent!

By Randy Moore

Attorney at Law - Santa Clara and Alameda County

I recommend that any citizen confronted by police exercise their constitutional right to remain silent and not incriminate themselves. Why? It was commonplace in Nazi Germany to hear “you will talk if you have nothing to hide.” The shocking truth is that innocent people get arrested and convicted of crimes every year. Another shock is how many accused citizens find out that without their own statements the police would otherwise be left without enough evidence to charge or prove a criminal accusation.

 Why would anyone give up this valuable right? Experience reveals that most citizens misunderstand their situation, the role of the police, or the unforeseen consequences of trying to talk their way out of an arrest. “Innocent” explanations can be damning.

First of all, understand that your right to remain silent is a fundamental protection against police overreaching or the Government making a case against you where the evidence doesn’t exist. Remember the Spanish Inquisition? Confessions of witches have been documented for centuries. Confession may be good for the soul. However, confess anything to the police and the results are certainly bound to be tragic. Say anything, to explain, and the statements come back to haunt you.

Ask yourself this question: If the police have evidence to arrest you why are they asking you any questions? To gather evidence. To get you to admit things the Government must prove. Those are obvious. Maybe you haven’t considered other “sneaky” reasons. Consider the following standard textbook instruction taught to police:

 “Lies, even minor ones, can be devastating to the defendant. Jurors will often convict a defendant simply because he has lied. Furthermore, a juror who is shown that the defendant lied in his statement will often not believe anything the defendant says from the witness stand.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

How do police decide what you say is a lie? Understand that they already suspect you of a crime. Police are taught:

“If the suspect committed a crime, everything he says about the offense must be either an admission or a lie.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

You can imagine the “lies” that can be manufactured from statements which are mistaken, innocently misstated, or taken out of context. “Admissions?” Here is a surprise. These include statements which on their face would not appear to be an admission of guilt.

“An admission is anything the suspect says which tends to prove his guilt by tying him in any way to the crime.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

This is obviously a one-sided game not to be played by you, “the suspect.” If you still have any doubts please consider the following police textbook instruction.

“Obtaining a statement from the suspect relating his version of the facts surrounding an offense is often very crucial to the success of the state’s case. It is almost always very helpful and rarely, if ever, harmful.

Even if the suspect makes only self-serving statements which are of no value at trial (often even self-serving statements come back to haunt him) or which are inadmissible, the state is no worse off than if no statements were taken at all..”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

Still not convinced? If you understand just how important your statement is to the criminal prosecution, the wise, informed, and patriotic citizen would do well to remain silent. Dwell on these eye openers:

“A suspect’s statement is one of the few ways he can be tied to the crime.

If you will analyze how a case is investigated and prosecuted, you will realize that there are very few ways a criminal can be connected to his crime – eyewitnesses; evidence on the suspect which came from the crime (e.g., victim’s pubic hair, stolen property, etc.); evidence left at the scene by the criminal (fingerprints). A statement is one of the most powerful ties because it comes from the suspect’s own mouth.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

“When a suspect gives a statement, his defense at trial will have to be consistent with that statement. Otherwise, he will have to admit at trial that he lied in his statement.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

“A suspect is always in a worse position at trial if he gave a statement soon after his apprehension.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

“A suspect who is questioned immediately after apprehension will never be able to think up as good a story as he will later after:

-                      he talks to his attorney and learns the best defense and how to show it; and

-                      he learns the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s case.”

                                                California Peace Officers Legal Sourcebook

 I’ll close with a silent prayer. “God bless America.” Remain silent. Support our Constitution.

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