The police are there to enforce the law – not to interpret the law with regards to a judgement of you and the circumstance you may be in.
Depending on the circumstances, you may be arrested, EVEN IF YOU ARE INNOCENT. But here’s the thing… when a LEO reads you your Miranda rights, take them seriously!
The following information is advice that I have interpreted from Andrew F. Branca, author of the excellent book, The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen
The world is a dangerous place. That’s why you’re prepared to protect yourself and your loved ones. Now arm yourself for the legal battle that happens after an attack. The first fight is for your life – the second for your liberty.~ Andrew F. Branca
Andrew F. Branca, the renowned expert in self-defense law, teaches you how to make quick, effective, legally appropriate decisions in life-and-death situations.
Tell them (firmly, but respectfully) that you’re “pleading the fifth” (the 5th Amendment to the Constitution) to avoid self-incrimination and you want an attorney. Keep quiet until you have an attorney – even if you’re innocent!
The Fifth Amendment is a part of the Bill of Rights, and guarantees that a citizen need not give testimony against himself.
The ‘Miranda warning’ wording varies, but here it is:
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have a right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
Why would you say anything if “ANYTHING” you say can and WILL be used against you?
Questioned by the Police
If you are ever in a situation where you are being questioned by the police, the basic advice is this: Do not talk to the police and do not answer any questions without an attorney.
There is some advice out there about initial polite wording. This makes sense. You don’t want to intentionally anger the police by not saying anything at all. Rather, “I’m taking the fifth” and “I would like to talk to a lawyer”.
The point here is to basically keep your mouth shut – until you speak with an attorney (either your own or one appointed to you).
This is not disrespecting the police. When they start questioning you – you might unknowingly incriminate yourself, even if you are innocent!
There’s no need to start blurting out verbal ‘stuff’, especially during the high emotions following an incident. NOTHING that you can possibly say to the police can help you (sounds strange, but true).
There are probably 10,000 ways that you might unknowingly implicate yourself in some sort of a criminal transaction.
THERE IS NO WAY IT CAN HELP (talking to the police)
YOU CANNOT TALK YOUR WAY OUT OF GETTING ARRESTED. Again, you cannot talk your way out of getting arrested. Reread that statement.
Once the police decide to arrest you, that’s it. Don’t resist. Deal with the rest while ‘in the system’ WITH AN ATTORNEY.
You cannot give the police any information that will help you at trial (See the Federal Rule of Evidence 801(d)(2)(A)).
What you tell the police CANNOT be used to help you at trial. It may only be used AGAINST you. Otherwise it is referred to as “hearsay” and not admissible. Please understand this.
There’s no rush. If you are guilty or even if you are innocent, any admission of guilt will not benefit you.
There is no rush; there is no need to tell the police something. Even innocent people may inadvertently ‘confess’ to something they did not do.
Even if you are innocent, and deny guilt, and mostly tell the truth, you might easily get carried away and tell some little lie or make some little mistake that will ‘hang’ you.
If you talk, any information will be used against you.
Even if you are innocent, and only tell the truth, you will ALWAYS give the police some information that can be used to help convict you.
“Pleading the fifth”
It’s the label commonly used in the U.S. legal sphere to describe the act of invoking the right against self-incrimination. The fifth, in this case, refers to the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution, which grants various rights to people, including the right not to testify against oneself in a trial.
So, if that terrible situation occurs where there is much uncertainty of facts and circumstances, where someone is injured or dies, or a crime or shooting has occurred, and you are being questioned… do yourself a favor, be very cautious, even as an innocent person, and invoke your 5th Amendment rights immediately when the Police begin to question you. Get a lawyer.
A ‘must read’ for those who ‘carry’:
Another important document to be aware of.. !
The Constitution of the United States of America
Any LEO’s or lawyers out there? What is your opinion?
NOTE: This article has been updated and re-posted. There are some excellent comments to read below (many from LEO’s themselves).