I like law movies – especially ones that portray aggressive criminal attorneys. “Lincoln Lawyer” . . . “A Few Good Men” . . . “The Judge” and “Primal Fear” are all some of my favorites. I will spare you a spiel about whether or not those movies depict reality in the courtroom, or whether the court room SHOULD depict more characteristics of movies (I think Mark Lanier is right on this). Maybe that would be a topic for another time.
Today, I want to talk about a phrase from “The Judge.” Robert Downy, Jr., playing the high-powered defense lawyer tells his father, the crankity judge, “If you don’t Talk, you Walk.” The Judge was brought in for informal questioning regarding a hit-and-run death. The officers were as friendly as all get out. Coffee in hand, non-chellant, the Judge was kicking back with the officers who were casually asking questions about his whereabouts the night before. The defense lawyer incredulously states:
IF YOU DON’T TALK – YOU WALK!
If I had a quarter for every time a client talked to an officer, I’d have a lot of Dollars. When should you talk to an officer? NEVER! Officer’s are not your “friends,” they are allowed to lie, they are allowed to trick, they will take you out of context and they WILL use everything you say against you. Some officers will employ tactics such as this, “I believe your innocent, I just need to get your statement, so I can close my file.” Don’t fall for it! It’s a Ploy!
Let me say this a different way, unless you have been hurt in an accident, or your house has been broken into, DO NOT TALK TO AN OFFICER. You will not be able to talk your way out of charges . . . even if your smart, you will not convince the officer that your alibi or denial is solid.
We live in a culture where the modern person is guilty until you convince the jury you are innocent. Officers are there to connect dots on their investigation – not find the truth.
It is important to establish a strong defense BEFORE you open your mouth. Think of it this way – if you were going to give the speech of your life in front of the graduation class at Harvard, or on a TED talk, would you just wing it? No?!? Why? Because you would want to be prepared, right?
The point of not talking is not to change testimony, or to change facts. If you are charged, the first time you testify should be in front of the jury (if you take the stand – which is a separate conversation). You will plan your testimony, but it will be your words, your speech, and your life! Don’t box yourself on the split-second decision to talk to the officer.
If an officer approaches you to get information, seek the advice of counsel before giving a statement. If you are charged, seek the services of an aggressive defense attorney as soon as possible.
— Jason Johnson
“This information is not meant to be taken as legal advice, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and Gravis Law”