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Why you shouldn't *always* remain silent (with the police)

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Thank you for weighing in, Bel.

I step back here and just say "you're right".

Take my notes more as argumetns about persuasion, than actual legal advice.

So with that in mind:

Quote from Bel on August 10, 2022, 7:36 pm

- giving even the most innocent statement creates a record that can, and will, be used against the person during the trial (imagine that the best legal defense rests on a specific fact or situation or sequence, and that just one of the answers given here is incompatible with that: this simple fact destroys that legal defense in advance, or at the very least is sufficient to cast doubt on it);

Fair enough, but what if what he says perfectly squares and lands credibility to the (most effective) approach the defense might take?

This is the main thing I struggle to understand with the line "absolutely never talk to the police", it may be far more likely that one says the wrong things. But can't one also happen to say something that helps the defense team?

In principle, it seems logical.

And I also say this because I remember one comment from a criminal defense lawyer saying about a few lines within an interrogation: "I'd use that in court".

In this specific case, when he denies having any issue with the murdered person, he seemed extremely convincing.
In a system where it's normal people who judge you, then coming across as convincing is a big bonus (see Johnny Depp denying having sent any message and people believing him, but nobody believing a word of Amber Heard).

Quote from Bel on August 10, 2022, 7:36 pm

- just saying he does not want to respond, and does not want to tell on others, frames him as person with a specific background and mentality;

Absolutely, absolutely.

But consider, this is not the type of guy who could, or should even try to pass for "good citizen".

In this case of a murder investigation, it would have been great for him to come across as a criminal, even a hardened criminal, but just not guilty of (this) murder.
Far more convincing than trying to pass for a good citizen.

Quote from Bel on August 10, 2022, 7:36 pm

- in most legal systems, what the suspect says can only be used against him, not in his favor. This is because most legal and trial systems have rules based on the premise that, while everybody is capable of saying false things that benefit themselves, no one will say a thing against their own interests unless it is true;

- in other words, even if the suspect only shares information helping him (an impossible feat by the way), at best it is going to be (mostly) irrelevant to the trial;

- the prosecution could isolate the most tenuous admissions from a suspect, and present them as indications of guilt;

- just affirming by mistake something that is irrelevant, but later turns out to be false, is sufficient to cast serious doubt on the credibility of a person;

- just affirming the truth on something unrelated to the case can be a problem, if a witness later (even by mistaken recollection) contradicts that truth!

It’s significant that the commentator in the video says, near the end: “he should really not have answered any questions and gotten a lawyer, but he did a good job”.

OK, got it, now that answers my previous question and nagging doubt, thank you Bel!

If that is the case, then "close-cosed" to go for an easy pun.

If the system automatically caps your upsides to zero and you only have downsides, then by all means it makes sense that "never, ever" talk is the most logically effective approach.

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My posts also are not legal advice, but just food for thought and discussion: especially as any personal situation (and legal system) has its specifics and nuances (and different rules; and some may even have totally different rules from what we are discussing here).

That said, I agree with you that, in some cases, declarations from a suspect in front of the authorities may also "help" the person and its defense (for example, to really clarify things to the authorities). And I agree that a legal strategy like the one you mention above could be an option in that case.

(For completeness, there are also cases in which one may be compelled to speak under the law: typically, when asked of one's personal identity; or, if one is not a suspect, but a third party being asked for information by the authorities.) 

But, taking a step back at a higher level, I still think that, if one is a suspect interviewed by the police for the first time, and has the option to stay silent and call a lawyer, this is going to be the best course of action every time: because a lawyer knows the law, has the personal distance to see things more objectively, and may be able (depending on the legal system and the phase of the investigation) to study the case (or at least to make an objective evaluation based on elements known) and to suggest the best course of action.

This course of action may even involve responding to questions or making specific declarations to clarify things, which however are now going to be made under an informed decision. The risks involved are going to be much lower, and the benefits (to possibly help one's case) are still going to be there.

It's basically a way of keeping one's options mostly open, instead of choosing the route that is likely to close them off.

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Lucio Buffalmano

A woman is on the phone with a 911 operator, and her dad shoots the intruder.

The daughter says:

You're the best, you just saved my life

The lawyer comments that's golden for the defense team because it's a honest -or honest sounding- evidence for being in fear of life.

A call with 911 is similar to talking to the police since anything you say can be used against you -and I've heard some US lawyers advice that calling 911 you simply tell the nature of the emergency, the address, and hang up-.

So this seems to be a case where "what you say can help your case".



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BTW, as a quick update on this:

The case was dropped.

Doesn't mean of course that what I did helped.

The only way to know would be to compare "not saying anything" with what I did, and until we'll invent a time machine, that's not yet possible :).

Still, it may suggest that what I did probably didn't harm me too much.

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