I know that it’s been said again and again but it bears periodic repetition: don’t talk to the police. Period.
Someday soon, when you least expect it, a police officer may receive mistaken information from a confused eyewitness or a liar, or circumstantial evidence that helps persuade him that you might be guilty of a very serious crime. When confronted with police officers and other government agents who suddenly arrive with a bunch of questions, most innocent people mistakenly think to themselves, “Why not talk? I haven’t done anything. I have nothing to hide. What could possibly go wrong?”
Well, among other things, you could end up confessing to a crime you didn’t commit. The problem of false confessions is not an urban legend. It is a documented fact. Indeed, research suggests that the innocent may be more susceptible than the culpable to deceptive police interrogation tactics, because they tragically assume that somehow “truth and justice will prevail” later even if they falsely admit their guilt. Nobody knows for sure how often innocent people make false confessions, but as Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski recently observed, “Innocent interrogation subjects confess with surprising frequency.”
People still mistakenly believe that the police are the good guys and that cooperating with them can only be beneficial if you’re an innocent person. In reality police are not the good guys, they’re the revenue generators for the State. Their goal of raising revenue can only be realized by charging people with crimes. So long as wealth can be expropriated it doesn’t matter to the State whether the person hauled in actually perpetrated the crime or not.
A false confession is just as good as a truthful confession to the police. Either one achieves their goal of raising revenue. That means any belief you have in justice prevailing is wrongly held.
When an officer wants to question you about something you should immediately shut up and lawyer up. Most politicians are lawyers and they have crafted the system to benefit lawyers. The downside is that you’re basically stuck handing money to lawyers if you’re accused of a crime. The upside is that a lawyer knows the ins and outs of the system far better than most police officers and can therefore provide you with decent protection (assuming they’re not incompetent). A lawyer, for example, knows what to say without confessing you were guilty of a crime. They also know the rules regarding admissible evidence and whether or not the police have a case without a confession. You (and me), as a layperson, are likely to naive about the legal system that you don’t even know what you don’t know. And that ignorance can land you in a cage for a crime you didn’t commit.