It is never good idea to talk to law enforcement

Posted by Craig Penrod | Feb 04, 2014 | 0 Comments

Each of us has a natural human instinct to talk, when questioned by an authority figure to deny, explain or minimize one's fault. That's why the act of talking to law enforcement officers has the potential to be one of the biggest mistakes a person could make, regardless of their actual guilt or innocence of the charge of driving under the influence (DUI).

It was the case of Watts v. Indiana, where Associate Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson wrote, more than 60 years ago, that “any lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances.” Justice Jackson was a jurist with decades of experience as a prosecutor, including the U.S. chief of counsel for the post-war prosecution of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, Germany.

There are multiple reasons for a person accused of a crime to invoke their right to remain silent. Those reasons are true in virtually every criminal case. In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

There is virtually nothing to be gained by answering the questions of law enforcement officers. Once an investigating officer has made the determination that there is probable cause to stop or arrest you, your particular charisma or oratorical skill will not make any difference. Ask any law enforcement officer how often that they have been charmed or persuaded to the point of dropping a matter, particularly a situation involving DUI, and you will consistently be told that it will never happen.

A defendant has little to gain by talking. Under the rules of evidence, while anything statement can be used against defendants, nothing that might be said will be used in the defendant's favor. Self-incriminating statements are considered to be admissions and are bound to be introduced into evidence.

Exculpatory statements evidence which may justify or excuse an accused a defendant's actions are considered to be self-serving hearsay and are normally prevented from being admitted into evidence.There are no statements that will result in a bargain with law enforcement because an officer is not authorized to make any bargains. The person who might be authorized to make any deals is the prosecutor. Thus, the more statements provided indirectly to the prosecutor as a result of speaking to law enforcement, the more likely bargaining position of the prosecutor will be strengthened and your position will be weaken.

There is nothing to gain in terms of potential punishments. That's because it is the judge who makes decisions regarding potential punishments. Should you desire an opportunity to make statements of contrition or apologies, there will be ample opportunities.

There is also the gamble that the law enforcement officer accurately writes down or records your statements. Should you have to go into court at a later time and convince a jury that you were misquoted or that any statement is being taken out of context you will have a difficult time proving otherwise. Plus, a jury is likely going to assume that the officer's account presented during testimony is more reliable than your story, whether you are being truthful or not. Most persons assume that criminal defendants have a motive to lie.

It is possible to inadvertently incriminate yourself in unforeseen ways by supplying information to the prosecution for offenses that are not even imagined. Even a completely exculpatory statement has the potential to be used to destroy your defense.

During your statement, should there be any exaggeration or minimization of any aspect of your version of events, the potential exists for that to be used against you, in order to show that you provided false information.

Should you make any concession at all during questioning by law enforcement, it's likely that it will be one less thing that the prosecutor will be required to prove and one more thing that your attorney will have to defend against.

Thus, competent defense lawyers will never allow their clients to answer questions from law enforcement officers. There is a constitutional right to remain silent within the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, as well as the constitutions of most states. That right should be asserted by any defendant at their earliest opportunity. That action clears the way for your case to be defended regardless of any guilt or innocence.

It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you're in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.

About the Author

Craig Penrod

Craig W. Penrod was born and raised in Arizona and has practiced criminal defense for over 30 years. Mr. Penrod is a member of the State Bar of Arizona, Maricopa County Bar Association, State of Nevada Bar Association, American Bar Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Nevada Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.


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