Some readers will be a bit puzzled why I would spread this message in my blog: “Do not, under any circumstances, be interviewed by the police without advice from a lawyer.” You have a right to remain silent, and I urge you to exercise that right. Especially if you are innocent.
Yes, this pertains to U.S. citizens, and not everyone in other countries have this right. How sad for them! (More on the right in other countries.) But “Taking the Fifth [Amendment]” isn’t something to be ashamed of: it’s a cherished important part of our Bill of Rights.
Parents Especially Should Know This
It’s something you should share with your children (grown or not).
I have a particular interest in this subject because of “zero tolerance” policies in schools. Too often, children defer to authority — as they’ve been taught by …uh… the authorities — and when the principal says “Write out what happened and sign it,” that resulting confession is often given to the police.
Cops certainly can’t demand that a suspect write a confession without first advising the suspect of their rights (“You have the right to remain silent…”), but school officials — typically government agents in their own right — don’t seem to have a problem obtaining confessions for use against their own students, even without bringing in their parents first (let alone a lawyer).
Kids (and adults!) often don’t understand that they are sealing their own fate when they comply with such outrageous demands.
But Don’t Just Take My Word For It
I can’t explain the why of the title better than James Duane, a professor at the Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Va. He received his own law degree from Harvard in 1984 (cum laude), and is a former defense attorney. I urge you to watch his talk below.
Readers know I used to be a cop. I was in fact a sheriff’s deputy in California, though I was attached to the sheriff’s Search & Rescue team, rather than doing “real” law enforcement.
So what does a real cop think of this? Prof. Duane had a criminal investigator there when he gave this talk, and allowed him to have equal time to reply. I’ve attached that video, too, but here’s the summary: “He’s right. Don’t talk us. It’s not in your best interest.”
Prof. Duane gave this talk on March 14, 2008, to the Regent University chapter of the Federalist Society. It’s almost a half-hour long, but it’s time well spent: it could save you years of incarceration should you be in the unfortunate position of being accused of a crime you did not commit.
Again, watch it and have your kids watch it. Send them the URL to this page. On Twitter? Tweet this. You certainly can’t expect schools to teach this vitally important lesson.
And here is the police officer’s response, which is also interesting and informative:
Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time. I hope this will keep you from doing time if you’re ever falsely accused of doing a crime.
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