by Tina Seymour Demoran, Esquire
One of my areas of practice is criminal law.
In the last month, I have viewed several body camera videos from client arrests, and in every video…EVERY VIDEO…they talked.
I mean, they talked a lot. A LOT.
Sitting at my desk, watching the video provided to me by the prosecutor’s office, holding a cup of warm apple cider (hush, it’s October, the temperature is FINALLY below 90 degrees…therefore I’m drinking cider), I have shook my head so many times I think that I have developed a sports injury in my neck.
My friends, I rarely write about the criminal arm of my law firm, but today, I am going to do so.
If you are arrested…HUSH. You have the right to remain silent. DO SO. You’re not smarter than the officer…it’s not your job to convince them you are innocent…and you are speaking to an officer who hears, every day, that the person they are arresting has been wrongfully accused, or the situation is different than it appears.
Say these words: “Am I free to leave?” If the answer is no, then you say, “I wish to remain silent and I would like to talk to a lawyer.”
Stay Put. If you are involved in a car accident, if the cops show up because they have been called, or if they see something suspicious and pull over to check it out…do not run away. Leaving, especially when you are hoofing it out of the area as if you are guilty, will not help your case. Leaving the scene of an accident is also a felony.
Don’t resist arrest. Keep your hands to yourself. DON’T TOUCH THE OFFICER.
Don’t fall for the “we have such and such evidence, so you might as well confess” scenario. Just hush.
Realize that the interview room is videotaping every word, every corner of that room. Just because the officers leave the room, you are not alone. That camera is still recording you and any conversations you may have on your cell phone. Yes, we can also usually hear the full conversation on the video. Rarely are these conversations going to work in your favor from an evidence standpoint.
Don’t say anything in the interview room that you don’t want to watch on a large screen television in court later on down the road.
So, boys and girls, let’s go over this one more time:
Hush. Don’t run. Don’t resist arrest. Don’t say a thing in the interview room if you have chosen to remain silent, other than these words:
“Am I free to leave?”
If the answer is no, then you reply, “I wish to remain silent and I would like to talk to a lawyer.”
That’s it…nothing else.