5th Amendment

        Shut up.  Sorry to be so blunt, but the phrase, “Take advantage of your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent” doesn’t seem to sink in.  Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if it just kept its mouth shut.

         Fight the urge to talk your way out of trouble.  You won’t.  If you are a suspect in a criminal case and the police want to talk to you, you can only make things worse by giving a statement.

         The reason for this is that when an officer asks you to give “your side” of the story, one of only two possible situations exist.  The first possibility is that the officer(s) believe that they have enough evidence to arrest you even if you don’t say anything.  The second possibility is that they don’t feel as if they have enough evidence to arrest you.

       If the police believe there is enough evidence to arrest you then they will bring you down to give “Your side of the story”, after which they will arrest you.  The purpose of having you give “Your side of the story” before they arrest you is  so you commit yourself to your story before you have a chance to think or get a lawyer.  Good officers also know that the more you talk the more likely you are to say something your prosecutor can use against you.

      Often, officers will ask for your statement even if they don’t feel they have enough evidence to arrest you already.  They will give you every opportunity to incriminate yourself.  It is amazing how many people do.

        When I ask my clients, “Why did you give a statement?” the most common answer is, ”I did because I didn’t want to look dishonest.”  The law in Texas is clear.  IF YOU ASK TO REMAIN SILENT, THE JURY WILL NOT SEE OR HEAR THE REQUEST.  Also, IF YOU ASK FOR A LAWYER, THE JURY WILL NOT SEE OR HEAR THE REQUEST.

       When the prosecutor looks at the video, the prosecutor will not think, “Hey!  That guy’s dishonest!”  The prosecutor will think, “Hmm… that’s one piece of evidence I don’t have.”

        When a policeman, attorney or judge is being investigated the first thing they always do is shut up.  The second thing is ask for their lawyer.  There is a reason for that.

        The bottom line is, you don’t know the law.  I have NEVER, EVER, EVER had a client that was glad that they went to the police to “clear things up”.  What people think is a “defense” or, even worse, “explanation” is often a confession.  Shut up and discuss your case with your lawyer.

Video from a law school professor that explains it well:

Return to the Criminal Law Guide.