There is a tendency to want to answer a question when asked. But in the world of criminal defense, to do so can be very costly.
Why is this the case? Why do lawyers tell their clients to not talk to law enforcement or other government agents?
First, under the rules of evidence, a statement made by a defendant is almost always going to be available to be used against the person who gave the statement. So by talking, you are creating evidence that will be used against you.
Talking can also lead to other evidence. For instance, a statement may not be inculpatory in and of itself, but the statement might give investigators a lead to evidence that is inculpatory.
But let’s talk about this subject in a broader sense. When a law enforcement officer or a person who works for the government comes to talk to you, they are not there by accident. They have arrived in order to get evidence. Evidence of a crime. Evidence that can be used to convict you.
When a law enforcement officer or a person who works for the government comes to talk to you, they don’t have to tell you the truth. But you do. And that means that the discussion is one sided.
The law gives you two distinct protections if law enforcement comes out to speak to you. First, you have the right to remain silent. Oddly, in order to invoke (activate) that right, you have to tell the officer that you are invoking your right to remain silent. The law also gives you the right to an attorney. So if the law comes to talk to you, use the tools that you have: don’t talk and tell them you are invoking your right to remain silent and also ask for an attorney.
Does it matter? Is it really that important not to talk? As a former prosecutor, I can’t tell you how many cases depended upon the statements made by the defendant.
If you are under investigation, please give me a call. I have handled numerous pre-charge or pre-indictment cases for clients. Don’t wait to call. The government already has a head start.