Legal shows on television do not normally have much association with reality, but one thing you often see on there is true. When a person gets arrested and the polic say he/she has a right to remain silent, a right to a lawyer and anything he/she says can and will be used against him/her, that is definitely true. Anyone who has been arrested has a Constitutional right to remain silent. Anyone who has been arrested has a right to speak to a criminal defense lawyer before he/she gives any sort of statement to the police. For some reason, a lot of people ignore those Constitutional rights and freely speak to the police after an arrest. Almost invariably, that person does severe damage to his/her case by doing so. Criminal defense attorneys sometimes say, one way to solve the jail overcrowding problem would be if people shut up when they were arrested by the police.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is for someone arrested for a crime or suspected of having committed a crime to understand that he/she has an absolute right to not talk to the police and to talk to a criminal defense lawyer. However, the police are not going to ask you twice, and they are not going to hold your hand during this process. The police have a job to do and that is to arrest you and put you in jail if they think you have committed a crime. The whole idea of them getting a statement from you is to help them do that. You telling them you did not do the crime is not likely to change their minds. They did not go to the trouble of arresting you and bringing you in for a statement just to apologize and send you on your way if you tell them you are innocent. In all likelihood, you will only dig yourself a much deeper hole by giving a statement under those circumstances when you do not even know what evidence they have, if any.
In order to assert your Constitutional rights to remain silent and speak to a lawyer, you must be clear that is what you want to do. An equivocal or half-hearted request to stop talking or see if you can call someone will not get the job done. You must be very clear and assertive that you want to speak to a criminal defense lawyer before making any statements. You cannot say you want to go home or you want to call a friend or family member. You have to clearly express a desire to speak to an attorney in lieu of giving any sort of statement. Anything short of that may not be a sufficient assertion of your Constitutional rights. However, if you do make a clear statement that you want to speak with a criminal lawyer, the police are supposed to stop all questioning at that point. You can always resume speaking to the police at a later time, but if you do, you will likely be doing so with the benefit of knowing much more about the case, the laws the penalties you face and whether you have anything to gain by making a statement. The police always have something to gain by you making a statement after an arrest, you, on the other hand, may not.
if you have any questions about speaking to the police in a specific criminal case or in general, feel free to contact us for a free consultation about your rights in a criminal case.