Silence: the Valuable Right that Protects Your Client

Defense counsel should remember one basic rule when consulted by a client during a criminal investigation: Tell the client not to speak about the case with anyone. This means no talking to the police, probation department, girlfriend, boyfriend, mother, father, sheriff’s deputy, cellmate, news media, bail agent, or best friend. Explain to your client that making statements can be dangerous. A client who has been arrested or fears imminent arrest naturally wants to talk his or her way out of trouble.  Fear of authority and fear of consequences combine to make this desire to talk a desperate one. But it’s always a bad idea. If a client has been arrested, law enforcement feels that there’s at least enough evidence to present the case for prosecution. Even in the best case scenario, any statement that changes this calculus will likely be deferred to the courts (the old “tell it to the judge”). In the worst case (the usual…

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