Facing an investigation or an arrest is frightening, especially if it is your first time through the justice system. The things you say and do while under investigation or during an arrest can improve your situation or make it worse.
As you may know, in the American system of justice, you are innocent until a prosecutor proves your guilt. The legal system incorporates the principles outlined in the U.S. Constitution. In other words, no legal authority may compel you to incriminate yourself. Depending upon your situation, self-incrimination can occur in a variety of ways.
Tips for avoiding accidental self-incrimination
When facing legal trouble, most people feel compelled to explain themselves. Unfortunately, talking too much can make you appear guilty to investigators or arresting officers. Reduce the odds of incriminating yourself by remembering these things:
- Avoid apologizing or otherwise implying that you might be guilty.
- Consider obtaining legal representation as early as possible.
- Do not answer questions unless your criminal defense attorney is present.
- If under investigation or released from jail on bond, avoid talking about your situation with others.
- If your case goes to trial, remember that you can invoke the Fifth Amendment to avoid self-incrimination on the witness stand.
- You may also refuse to testify at all.
Our criminal defense team understands your desire to explain away your perceived involvement in any crime. However, we recommend exercising extreme care in your dealings with local, state or federal law enforcement. Taking the right legal approach and heeding your lawyer’s recommendations will not harm your case and may even improve your circumstances. In the end, what you do and say could make a difference in the outcome of your case.