It’s never a good idea to talk to the police.

That’s a bold statement, and it can seem unreasonable to some people. Popular opinion states that, if a person refuses to talk to the police, he or she is hiding something or guilty. But popular opinion is wrong.

Under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, every American has the right not to be “compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against” him or herself. Basically, you have the right not to incriminate yourself, or make yourself look guilty for a crime.

Whether you are innocent or guilty of a crime, you can invoke this right when the police come.

Why?

A great viral video, which currently has more than 2.2 million views, tells why it is a bad idea to talk to the police without a lawyer present. James Duane, a professor at Regent Law School and a former criminal defense lawyer, explains his reasoning. His main points are as follows:

  1. You never know if your statements could someday be used to implicate you in a crime. There is an enormous number of federal criminal laws (numbering in the thousands), which means that you may have broken a law and not even know it!
  1. Talking to the police can’t help you. It is wildly unlikely that you will be able to talk your way out of getting arrested. In addition, anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  1. Even if you are completely innocent, you may say something that makes you look guilty. For example, let’s say that John is being questioned about the murder of Jim. John says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve never hurt anyone! Sure, I never liked Jim, but I wouldn’t kill him.” The sentence, “I never liked Jim” can lead police to suspect John of having motive to kill Jim.
  1. The police make mistakes. Police officers are human, after all. They may not, for example, accurately remember your testimony, which could come back to haunt you later. They are also allowed to lie to you. The Innocence Project has found that 25 percent of convicted men who were proven innocent by DNA evidence gave statements or confessed to the police. In many of these cases, the men were made to believe that they weren’t a suspect or that they could go home if they just confessed.

Watch the video below for the full explanation.

If you are ever approached by the police about a possible crime, contact an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney to make sure that your rights are protected.