We all like to think we can act calm under pressure, but are only put to the test when facing a tense situation such as a criminal arrest. What you say in such a scenario can have a profound effect on your future. The slightest slip-up in words can turn a relatively easy fix into a drawn-out legal crisis. Here are three things you should never say to the police if you are under suspicion of having committed a crime.
But I only…
“I only had one cocktail.” “I only took a pack of gum.” “I was only going seventy in a sixty-five.”
If you find yourself saying the word “only,” you are already talking yourself into trouble. When you say you only committed a minor offense, you are, in fact, admitting you broke the law. When entering the criminal justice system, you are considered innocent of all charges until proven guilty. Starting off by confessing to only committing a minor offense is creating an unnecessary burden for you and your defense lawyer.
Go ahead and search
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from unlawful searches and seizures by police officers. You can easily throw that ironclad protection away simply by submitting to a search of your person, your vehicle or your home. There are specific procedures police officers must undergo before legally conducting a search. If they have a search warrant or claim probable cause, then you must submit to the search, but otherwise, it is usually advisable not to do so. Being too open and agreeable in such a situation can come back to haunt you, even if you are perfectly innocent.
Do you know who I am?
This is never likely to go over very well with a police officer. No matter who you are or who you know, you should be treated equally under the law. Any hint of expecting special privileges may rightly offend an office who was otherwise in a good mood.
Statements like, “I pay your salary” can also strike the same unseemly chord. Being disrespectful to a police officer can only make your situation worse.
Let your lawyer do the talking for you
Police records are full of people who talked themselves into an arrest, a charge and even a conviction. Make sure to think twice before saying anything, and consult with an experienced criminal law attorney at the earliest sign of trouble.