First, READ OUR DISCLAIMER!
Should you find yourself being interrogated, interviewed, or otherwise questioned by any government agent, you should decline to provide any answers, invoke your rights, and secure counsel immediately. You might consider saying only:
And now, there’s an app for that: See our new Android App to provide you the words to invoke your rights, or to play a message invoking your rights for you.
To understand more about why it can ONLY hurt you to speak to any government agent investigating a possible crime, please view this video of Professor James Duane (alternate link; second alternate link) thoroughly explaining how your words will only hurt you. Then watch this video of Ofc. George Bruch explaining interrogation techniques and confirming Prof. Duane’s point.
A brief summary of the points made by Prof. Duane about saying anything to agents of the government:
- There is no way it can help
- You can’t talk your way out of getting arrested, it just doesn’t happen.
- Providing information cannot help you at trial, see Evidence Rule 801(d)(2)(A), since what you say is only admissible if it is offered against you.
- If you are guilty — and even if you are innocent — you may admit your guilt with no benefit in return
- What’s the rush, keep quiet, there’s always time later to talk, if it becomes necessary.
- In federal court, 86% of all defendants plead guilty at some point before trial.
- By the time of the trial, your own statement to the agents may be the only admissible evidence, don’t give it to them.
- According to The Innocence Project: “In more than 25% of DNA exoneration cases, innocent defendants made incriminating statements, delivered outright confessions or pled guilty.”
- Even if you are innocent and deny your guilt and mostly tell the truth, you can easily get carried away and tell some little lie or make some little mistake that will hang you.
- Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth, you will always give the agents some information that can be used to help convict you.
- “[O]ne of the Fifth Amendment’s basic functions is to protect innocent men who otherwise might be ensnared by ambiguous circumstances … [T]ruthful responses of an innocent witness, as well as those of a wrongdoer, may provide the government with incriminating evidence from the speaker’s own mouth.” Ohio v. Reiner, 532 U.S. 17, 21 (2001) (internal punctuation and citations omitted).
- “Too many, even those who should be better advised, view this privilege as a shelter for wrongdoers. They too readily assume that those who invoke it are either guilty of crime or commit perjury in claiming the privilege. Such a view does scant honor to the patriots who sponsored the Bill of Rights as a condition to acceptance of the Constitution by the ratifying States.” Ullman v. U.S., 350 U.S. 422, 426-427 (1956) (footnotes omitted).
- Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the agents anything incriminating, there is still a grave chance that your answers can be used to crucify you if the agents don’t recall your testimony with 100% accuracy.
- Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the agents anything incriminating and your statement is videotaped, your answers can be used to crucify you if the agents don’t recall the questions with 100% accuracy.
- Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the agents anything incriminating and the entire interview is videotaped, your answers can be used to crucify you if the agents have any evidence, even mistaken or unreliable evidence, that any of your statements are false.
Even if you are granted immunity for your statements, you should be very careful about what you might say.
“[A]ny lawyer worth his salt will tell the suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances.” Watts v. Indiana, 338 U.S. 49, 59 (1949) (Justice Robert Jackson, concurring in part and dissenting in part; emphasis added).