7 Real Reasons You Should Never Talk to the Police Without a Lawyer (Even If You Are Innocent)

You should only talk to the police in the presence of your attorney. It’s true, even if you are innocent. The Fifth Amendment, in short, provides that “no person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself (or herself).” According to law professor and criminal defense attorney James Duane, whether you are innocent or guilty, speaking to police could land you in the slammer. According to Duane, here are the seven real reasons you should never talk to the police without your lawyer. 

1. It simply can not help you

Arrest in Dallas

Nothing good comes of it. | Laura Buckman/AFP/Getty Images

Whether or not you are innocent has nothing to do with talking to the police. While you may be skilled and savvy, if the police are questioning you, absolutely nothing you say will help your cause (or your potential case). Not only will your words be zero help to your defense, but if an officer wants to arrest you, Duane makes it crystal clear that you will not, under any circumstances, be able to talk your way out of getting arrested — innocent or guilty.

Next: Here’s why there is no rush to explain yourself to the police. 

2. Whether guilty or innocent, there is no rush to speak with the police

A woman holds her hands up in front of a police car

There’s no need to rush. | Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

What is the rush to talk to the police? If you haven’t been arrested for anything, there is simply no need to quickly prove your innocence. It is important to assess what the benefit of your statement and words will actually be. For instance, 86 percent of guilty defendants end up pleading their guilt before the trial and with that admission of guilt commonly comes a settlement or lesser sentence.

Furthermore, what happens if the accusing police officer gets transferred to a different state? What if the police officer dies? Then a mistrial would be ruled. A premature confession only pigeonholes you.

Next: Even if you are innocent, you may accidentally implicate yourself. 

3. It’s too easy to get caught up and accidentally tell a little white lie

Policeman, suspect and female agent

A white lie can get you in deep trouble. | KatarzynaBialasiewicz/iStock/Getty Images

When a person is being questioned by the police, especially without the presence of their lawyer, it is increasingly easy to get caught up in the moment and tell a little white lie. Interrogations are stressful situations, and with that level of stress can come an eruption of explanations on your potential ties to the case and your whereabouts. It is easy for words to be misconstrued and used against you.

Next: Here’s how you could be wrongfully accused of a crime you didn’t commit. 

4. You will always provide the police with information that could be used against you

Woman getting arrested for a DUI

You have a right to remain silent for a reason. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

No matter what you believe, you will always provide the police with some sort of information that could be used against you. For example, in the case of being questioned about a murder, an innocent person could easily turn into a suspect. When being questioned by the police, that innocent person says, “I would never murder someone, sure I didn’t care for that person, but I would never murder them.” Suddenly, the police have a motive and that motive is that you “didn’t care for that person.”

Next: As we know, not all police officers have your best interest at heart. 

5. The police may not be able 100% recall your testimony

They might not remember everything perfectly. | Yui Mok – WPA Pool/Getty Images

Duane explains that “Even if you are innocent and only tell the truth and do not tell the police anything incriminating, there is still a grave chance that your answers can be used to crucify you in the court of law if the police do not recall your testimony with 100 percent accuracy.” At the end of the day, it could end up being your words against those of the police — who may not correctly recall every detail. Keep in mind that not every conversation is videotaped or recorded.

Next: Eyewitnesses and random evidence could be your demise if you speak to the police.

6. Any random evidence can be used against you

police body camera

Random things can be used against you. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

Random evidence can pop up anywhere during an investigation. In the investigation of a murder, for example, an innocent person claims that they have never fired a gun in their lives, so how could they ever be a murderer? Well, if the officer never divulged that the murder weapon was, in fact, a gun, then you could be convicted on that simple statement alone.

Next: Talking to the police put these celebrities behind bars. 

7. Martha Stewart and Marion Jones are perfect examples

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Marion Jones speaks to the media outside a United States federal courthouse

It was the lies that convicted her. | Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images

A great example is Martha Stewart and Marion Jones. When Stewart was under investigation, she chose to lie to law enforcement and investigators, instead of staying tight-lipped. It wasn’t empirical evidence that convicted Stewart, it the fact that she lied. The same goes for Jones. When asked if she had ever used steroids, she lied and said she had not. It was that lie that pigeon-holed her into a conviction.

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