How Criminal Defense Works – Know Your RightsPosted on:1/27/2011
|Ask any defense attorney what their first piece of advice for a potential client would be and they will all answer with: “Do not talk to the police.” Why? Basic Miranda: anything you say (ANYTHING) can be used against you. Tell them your name, prove your identity, and say nothing more until your attorney is present – then let him do the talking.|
Ask any defense attorney what their first piece of advice for a potential client would be and they will all answer with: “Do not talk to the police.” Why? Basic Miranda: anything you say (ANYTHING) can be used against you. Tell them your name, prove your identity, and say nothing more until your attorney is present – then let him do the talking.
Here is an example of someone who ignored this advice and how it worked against them.
A man, we'll call him Bob, was arrested for possession of stolen property. He had purchased a collector's guitar valued at $12,000 for about $5,000 from someone he'd met in a diner. The man had told Bob that he was a musician down on his luck and needed cash. He was planning to pawn the guitar, but the shop would only give him $1,000 for it and that was an insult. Bob looked the guitar over, being somewhat of an aficionado, and agreed to purchase it. They set the price and met the next day to make the deal.
Bob had thought he was getting a really good deal on a very collectible guitar. He showed it to a friend of his a few days later and the friend mentioned it to another friend. That person happened to be a detective working in the Burglary division. She found out where Bob lived and paid him a visit. Shortly thereafter, Bob was in police custody, his home had been ransacked by the police, and the guitar and a few other items the police suspected were stolen were also confiscated. The guitar was the only thing they could prove had been stolen, in the end. After several hours of interrogation, Bob had told the police all he knew – and he'd told it to them several times. He didn't know the full name of the guy he'd purchased the guitar from, he didn't know his address, or any other useful information about the guy.
The problem is that during his interrogation, Bob had let drop a few other things. He'd admitted that he wondered if the guy was totally on the up-and-up and he'd not asked the guy where the guitar had originally come from. A few days later, in court, this came back to haunt him and Bob was convicted of Possession of Stolen Property. Not to mention the guitar was returned to its rightful owner and Bob was out the $5,000 he'd paid the thief. Money that was never and could never be retrieved.
If Bob had kept his mouth shut and immediately demanded an attorney, he could have avoided this charge and conviction. Why? Because in order to convict someone of Possession of Stolen Property, the police must prove that the person willfully held stolen goods. The person has to know the goods are stolen. Otherwise, they are just people who received stolen goods without knowing they were stolen. This proof was given by Bob when he offhandedly mentioned that he wondered where the guy got the guitar and whether it was all legitimate. That single statement was enough to prove to the court that Bob had his doubts about the legality of the purchase, but made it anyway – thus knowingly purchasing stolen property.
So remember: “don't talk to police” and always call an attorney.