I had the call again this week: "I did not do anything wrong. Do you think it is ok if I talk to the police? Because – actually – I already talked to them and now they tell me they know what I did. I didn’t do anything!"
Yes you did. You talked to the police. You thought that they would recognize you were innocent or that you could convince them you are innocent. You talked – and made their case against you better. And the truth is, your innocence may make you a bigger target than you are already.
Remember that fifth amendment thing? You know – the "you have a right to remain silent" schtick that the police always give on TV. Well – innocent folks frequently waive that right in the view that their innocence will set them free. But what happens is the police almost always find some simple little lie that makes it look like you lied about the real issue.
Imagine the questioning like this:
(Officer) "So you were at home last night?"
"And you did not go to the Kit Kat Club?"
"No. Just ask anyone – they will tell you I was here. All night. Never left. Never went to the Kit Kat Club. Never been there. Ever. I sat here and watched TV until the news came on and then I went to bed."
"You’ve never been to the Kit Kat Club?"
(Long pause) "Well now that you mention it there was one time last May that I was in the parking lot of the Kit Kat Club … but not last night."
"The parking lot? Not inside?"
"Well I may have looked inside …"
And so it goes. You suddenly look like a liar. You lied when you said you had never been there and then you lied when you said you were only in the parking lot and you now look guilty.
Everyone has the 5th amendment right to remain silent but almost nobody ever does remain silent.
So take 20 minutes and go watch the video here. It will be the best 20 minutes you ever spend. Watch it and then watch here in the coming days as we talk more about not talking to the police.
Now go watch it – your freedom may depend on it.
When you come back remember this: nobody in the history of the world has talked their way out of trouble with the police. You may think you can but you cannot. Period. And the number of people who have falsely confessed – that’s right falsely confessed – and gone to prison for crimes they did not commit is astonishing.
Yesterday I listened to Dr. Charles Honts talk about the research on false confessions and it is frightening. Even worse – the cops always say that they can "identify" a false confession from a true one. As Honts says – the research shows that anyone’s ability to tell a real from false confession is "no better than chance." In over one-third of all the proven wrongful convictions (usually through DNA evidence) the defendant falsely confessed. And juries listened to the evidence and convicted an innocent man or woman.
So lots of stuff here – do yourself a favor. Do not ever talk to the police if they are investigating you for a crime (I mean in a social setting the police are usually nice folks so maybe you could talk about the Vikings or the Cubs or the weather …) and go watch that video linked to above. And if you are a cop reading this, and you share my view or have a need to respond – do it. Let’s start a discussion. Tell me about your horror story.