Do you have a right to give a statement to the police?

I often encounter clients in our initial conferences who are upset with the police investigation that lead to their arrest. One common complaint is that the police either did not question them or provide them with an opportunity to make a statement. I am asked if they have a right to give a statement.

There are really two answers to this question. The technical legal answer is no. You have an absolute right to not give a statement to the police guaranteed by the 5th amendment. The police can never force you to answer questions or make a statement. You also cannot force the police to ask you questions, listen to you or read what you write.

The second answer, which is a more practical one, is yes you can always give a statement to the police. There is nothing preventing a defendant from writing out their own account of what happened and delivering it to the police. In almost all cases the police will happily read what you provide since they know that often times criminal suspects unknowingly make incriminating statements against their own interests which attempting to exonerate themselves.

Although the defendant's exercise of their right to remain silent cannot be used against them in Court, the police's failure to conduct a thorough investigation certainly can be the foundation of a legal defense. When the police fail to ask even basic questions before making an arrest it can create large holes in the State's case.

In almost every case I strongly advise my clients that no statements be given until we have had an opportunity to fully investigate the case and have obtained copies of the police reports, witness statements and other materials turned over after I file a discovery motion.

If you are seeking a Lexington Criminal Defense Attorney to represent you in your case contact the Law Office of James R. Snell, Jr., LLC, at 1-888-301-6004 We represent clients in criminal charges in Columbia and surrounding areas in misdemeanor and felony cases including domestic violence, drug possession, and DUI. Initial appointments are provided on a no-cost and confidential basis.

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