Oct 26 2009
I knew about the Miranda act and the Fifth Amendment, but I’d never really realized how little protection they offer if you decide to talk. The words “Anything you say can and will be used against you” really mean exactly what they say. I’m not much of a trouble maker, despite what some of my previous employers might say, but after watching a pair of videos from the University of Alberta (watch them below or on the Law is Cool site), the only words I’m going to say to a police officer from now on are going to be “I want to talk to my lawyer”.
The point that the professor makes again and again is that there is nothing you can say to a police officer that is going to help you. You are infinitely more likely to say something that can be used against you, even if your innocent, than anything you say helping you. The part that surprised me, is that even if you say something that could help you to the police, your attorney can’t use it in your defense. That may just be the law in Canada, but I’m not willing to take the chance.
Even if you’re completely innocent and were just a witness to a crime, do yourself a favor and have a lawyer present. It’ll cost you some money, it’ll cost the police some time, but it might make the difference between potential problems and walking out of the police station at the end of the interview. People get excited and make mistakes, and things sometimes come out the wrong way. Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt. The officer in the video states several times that the police are allowed to lie in interviews; in a worse case scenario, what you thought was just making a statement could turn into a full on interrogation if you misspeak, even if it’s an honest mistake.
This should make the holiday season interesting; my BiL is a Southern California police officer and I don’t think he’d see the humor in me bringing a lawyer to the family get togethers.