Tips For The Suspect In A Criminal Case

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021

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If you’re a suspect in a criminal case, then no matter where you are in the process, you need to be aware of your rights. Police regularly trick suspects and defendants into providing information and taking actions that make them look guilty even when they’re innocent. Whether you’re locked up in jail or about to be questioned by police, it’s important not only to use government-provided protections such as “pleading the 5th” and asking to see your attorney, but also to be smart for yourself. Protect your ability to have a fair trial by being discreet with the information you share. Here are a few tips on how:

Criminal Suspects Should Never Consent to Searches

There may come a time when you will be asked by a police officer to consent to the search of your person, home, or car. In these situations, remember: “just say no.” The police are asking your permission for a reason – they may need it in order to conduct the search. If they don’t have a warrant and no exceptions to the warrant requirement exist, such as evidence that could be easily lost or destroyed, or a belief that someone in your home may be in danger and need immediate help, the police are not allowed to search your private property unless you give them permission. They won’t tell you this at the time, of course. On the contrary, the police may make all kinds of dire threats to gain your consent to search, such as “we’ll get a search warrant anyway if you don’t cooperate;” or “you’re making yourself appear guilty,” or “we’ll make sure the prosecutor goes easy on you if you cooperate. Your best angle here is not to consent, and not to sign any consent form. If they do need your permission, why give it to them?

A Criminal Suspect Should Never Discuss The Case Over the Phone

Did you know that every time you make a call from a jail house phone your conversation is being tape recorded? The police can hear everything you say over these phones, and anything you say can and will be used against you in court, even if you tell it to a trusted friend or family member. They can play back any careless or casual statement you make about your case as a party admission against you. DO NOT discuss your case over the jail house phone. In addition, be very careful in conversations with friends and family members during visiting

Discussions With Other Inmates

The cautionary rule also applies to conversations with jail inmates. If you go to jail, people will naturally wonder and ask why you are there. DO NOT tell them. Simply say, “I was advised by my attorney not to discuss the case.” Do this to protect yourself from a possible jailhouse informant, a.k.a. – “a snitch.” A snitch is an inmate who will listen to everything you say and tell the authorities about it later, even testifying in court if necessary, in exchange for a reduced sentence or release from jail. Thus one of your jailhouse buddies may turn out not to be a buddy at all: he’s a witness for the prosecution.

Discussions With Investigators

If you are suspected of committing a crime, the police will be very interested in talking to you. If you are being interviewed by the police and have not been arrested, the police are under no duty to read you the Miranda Warning (“You have the right to remain silent, etc.”). ] This informal “interview” is probably when you’re most at risk for giving the police an incriminating statement, because they won’t tell you it’s your specific right to NOT do just that….until it’s too late. Stay silent or have an attorney present during questioning. DO NOT talk to the police. They are only interested securing your conviction and their promotion.  

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday June 1, 2010 that a suspect in a criminal case must clearly state his desire to remain silent in order to invoke Miranda rights.  This means that once rights have been read and questioning has begun, you must clearly declare your desire to remain silent — you cannot simply BE silent.  This development in criminal law just demonstrates even further how important it is to be vigilant when talking to the police.  In order to avoid incriminating yourself, you must actively declare your intent to remain silent.  This is even more reason to insist on having an attorney present as early as possible in the process…once your Miranda Warning is read to you, the situation is escalated even more!  Protect yourself, seek the services of an attorney. 

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