A lecture given at Virginia’s Regent Law School gained YouTube popularity after the law professor explicitly stated that no one should ever give a statement to the police. The now viral video prompted the professor to release a book addressing the dangers of providing any information to police officers without first speaking to a lawyer. Even if you are not involved in committing a crime, it is possible to accidentally implicate yourself. In 2015 a record number of people in the United States were falsely convicted of committing a crime illustrating how often wrongful prosecution occurs.
Problems Within the System
A growing number of false convictions led many organizations to question the criminal justice system. The justice system places emphasis on quickly arresting and convicting people, creating a dangerous environment for anyone who speaks with police officers. Rather than question bystanders to discover the truth, police officers often question bystanders solely to find a potential perpetrator. Police officers are not required to tell you the truth, and minor mistakes in your statement may later be interpreted as deliberate lies. Critics of these conviction and prosecution methods point out that the annual number of false convictions has doubled since 2011 showing that this is a national problem.
Understanding Your Rights
There are those who believe that refusing to answer police questions is something only a criminal would do. Many innocent people do not understand that they have rights when participating in any police investigation. When the police question you about a crime you are under no obligation to make a statement. In Illinois, if you do decide to give the police a statement you can request that the police record it.
As long as the criminal justice system is stacked against those who speak to police officers, the best way to protect yourself is to strictly limit communication. Only answer questions that you are legally obligated to respond to such as your name and a brief explanation of what you are doing. Do not volunteer any additional information or engage in a lengthy dialogue that creates an opportunity for the police officer to trick you into saying the wrong things. The only safe response to a situation involving police questioning is “I want a lawyer.”
Let Us Help
If you are arrested or involved in a police investigation, then you should not make any statements to the police or anyone else. Only speak to an experienced Chicago civil rights attorneys who can listen to your thoughts and provide you with knowledgeable advice. Call 312-854-0906 to schedule a consultation with our team today. We are able to provide you with the representation you need to protect your rights and your future.