Individuals who are accused of criminal activity or facing criminal charges have certain rights. For example, anyone who is under arrest theoretically has the right to remain silent, which has its basis in court precedent. However, many people waive that right and talk openly with police officers after an arrest. They often do this because they believe they can lessen their charges or the penalties that the state will impose by cooperating.
Unfortunately, the reality is that many people who keep talking after they get arrested end up hurting their case and making it harder to fight their charges.
Why talking can hurt someone’s case
There are two ways in which discussing a situation that led to one’s arrest with police officers can help the prosecution build their case and make it harder for that person to defend themselves. The first is how police officers can slowly confuse and manipulate someone into saying things that make them look guilty. Officers may ask leading questions about someone’s history or feelings and then use that to build their claim that they had a motive for the crime. Those subject to questioning for long enough might even admit to something they didn’t do just because they want to leave.
Other times, it won’t be a confession or statements that make someone look dangerous so much as it will be contradictions that hurt someone’s legal position. Police officers will often ask the same questions repeatedly in the hopes of getting someone to contradict themselves. Answering the same question or very similar questions differently can make someone look unreliable or like a liar, even if questioning lasts hours.
Rights aren’t helpful if people don’t use them
The right to remain silent can protect people from unnecessary prosecution or at least give them a better chance of successfully defending themselves when they face charges. The right to have an attorney assist that defendant can also have a major impact on their chances of avoiding prosecution or a conviction when the state indicts them for criminal activity.
Of course, in scenarios in which someone was manipulated or tricked by police officers, there may still be an opportunity for them to fight back in criminal court. Still, it is easier to build a viable defense when people don’t make mistakes when they are initially taken into police custody. Learning about and avoiding some of the most common mistakes people make when facing charges can help those who aspire to fight back successfully in criminal court.