Criminal History Quiz
Those Technicalities

Shut Up

Public Defender Dude is back to blogging.  He blogs about Martha Stewart's case here, showing how a PD could have kept Martha off the hook:

Lastly, anyone who wants to go and criticise public defenders remember this, her high priced lawyers let her speak with the investigators, and it was these lies that resulted in her conviction. Not because she lied to them and it made her look dishonest over a larger issue, but the lies were the crime. I know of very few public defenders who would let their clients speak to the government when there is a chance of being filed on. To put it in the context we can relate to more, if the police want to come and talk to you about your claiming too high a deduction for donating your car on your taxes (you claimed retail and only should've, in light of your car's condition, claimed high wholesale, or $500 more), would you go and try and talk your way out of this one knowing that talking your way out could get you in prison for a few years?  Any lawyer who let you talk is crazy.

I don't think I've ever seen a case where a client benefited from talking to the police.  What people don't realize is that the police very frequently lie.  Even telling them the truth when you are innocent (especially when you are innocent) can hurt you.  Almost always, when the cop takes the stand, he will put words in your mouth.  Your options are then limited.  First, you could forfeit your right to remain silent.  Well, once you take the stand you open yourself up to impeachment and the brutality of a cross-examination.  Besides, do you think a jury will really believe you over a police officer?  You could also remain quiet.  This will allow the jury to wonder why you won't defend yourself given that the police said you admitted to the facts underlying the crime. 

Keep your mouth shut.  The police do not "just want to talk" or to "just let you give your side of the story."  They want to put you into prison.  Do you understand?

Sure, I realize that you are afraid that the cop will think you are guilty if you don't talk.  He'll think you are a punk.  Well, in prison they use the word punk as well.  It is someone who gets regularly gang r****d.  Which is worse? 

Talking to the police puts you one step closer to being the second type of punk.  It doesn't help if you are innocent either.  If the state's attorney/district attorney needs to close a case, he will.  After all, whether or not the SA can become a judge hinges on his making people feel that he is tough on crime - closing cases accomplishes this.  Victims of crime want closure.  They want a conviction.  They will convice themselves that you are the person who made them feel the way the do.  There are a lot of complex rationalizations people in law enforcement use when convicting innocent people.  The cop figures you're guilty of something, even if it's not this crime.  After all, why would the victim have fingered you?  The SA/DA is often more concerned with getting a promotion - which only happens to those who win trials - than with justice.  You don't believe me?

Ask around.  I do not know any criminal defense lawyer who has not seen an innocent client convicted.  Think they'll lie to you?  Read Justice Kennedy's concurrence in Dretke v. Haley, where he castigates Texas prosecutors because "[t]hey wish to send Haley back to prison for a crime they agree he did not commit."

Do you want to go to prison?  No?  Keep your mouth shut.  And then hire a criminal defense lawyer.