I tell people time and time again, don’t talk to the cops. If an officer has pulled you over, or has terry stopped you, or otherwise has you detained, you two are not friends. That cop is not there to help you. Giving him more information than what is legally required of you – usually just your name and address – will only help his record look a little better when his annual review comes around.
But people don’t want to believe me. When online I can just point them to my post advising them not to talk to the cops, but I don’t have that luxury in person. It’s frustrating. Everyone believes they can talk their way out of any situation. “B-but if I just get a chance to tell my side of the story, I’ll be fine!” No, you won’t. Remember when ex-politician and current beautiful hair model Rod Blagojevich had close to two dozen charges against him? He was showboating and proclaiming about his day in court. Boy was he going to show the government what was what! And then the government put on a terrible case, failing to prove Blagojevich guilty of almost everything. Needless to say, the man didn’t take the stand – it doesn’t pay to say more than what must be said. But he was found guilty of one count: lying to the FBI. He had made the mistake of talking to agents before his lawyers could get him to shut the hell up.
Which brings me to an excellent article from the law blog Popehat:
Is there ever a situation where, by being friendly and cooperative and answering questions, you can deflect government suspicion or satisfy their concerns without charges? Yes. Very rarely, there is. And when the government comes knocking, they count on you grasping at the hope that this is one of those times. Don’t be a fool. If there’s a chance that cooperation will satisfy the authorities today, there will still be a chance in a day or a week or a month after you’ve consulted a lawyer who understands the situation. When you answer law enforcements’ questions — especially when you do it in a stressful situation like a search — you take grave risks of substantially worsening your situation.
Read the entire post and it’s obvious the given scenario is one most of us will never experience. But that isn’t the point. The most law-abiding among us is plenty likely to encounter a cop that wants to ask us questions. And most of us would probably answer everything plenty blindly. But don’t. That cop is not your friend, he doesn’t want to help you, and it will not benefit you to talk to him.
But maybe you’re worried about looking guilty. If you don’t talk, that will only raise suspicions, right? Maybe. But how many prosecutors have given the closing statement, “And so the defendant was silent when questioned. I think you know what that means. I rest my case.”?
Keep your mouth shut.