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NEVER have a "conversation" with law enforcement if they are questioning you about ANYTHING, regardless how casual it seems.

In court, law enforcement is allowed to testify to whatever they "recall" during conversations with you. And you won't be able to challenge it whatsoever. You are testifying against yourself when you do this, even if you are 1000% innocent - they might "recall" differently. And then you are screwed.

Everything from "do you know how fast you were going" to something much more extreme like this case.




It's not so much lousy memories, it's that law enforcement are compelled to give evidence against you (as Miranda and various worldwide cautions spell out) but they do not legally have to say anything that proves your innocence.

At least that's the bit that convinces me there's no good to be had in talking to law enforcement.


I'm not sure about the rules for the cop himself.

However, the prosecution, meaning the DA and his office, are required to disclose to you and your attorney anything that would support your innocence (known as exculpatory evidence).

I'm not a lawyer, so it's not clear to me how this interacts with the cop's role. As a witness, I guess he wouldn't have to offer anything. But as the guy who arrests you, I'd think that he's part of the "prosecution team", and thus would be covered by the rules of exculpatory evidence. Anybody know more than my supposition?


In theory they do. In practice, there's no consequence if they don't, and it might gain them more convictions.


This is a great talk on that topic by Professor James Duane: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4097602514885833865


Best defense of the fifth amendment I've ever seen.


Yes it's great. The follow-up talk by Officer George Bruch of the Virginia Beach Police Department is also very informative: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6014022229458915912

The gist of it is that he completely agrees with Professor James Duane that talking to the police always goes against your best interests, and goes on to discuss practical interview techniques that the police use to get suspects to talk.


I've always in theory supported this position. But it's completely impractical. If you don't cooperate, you're going to get a ridiculous treatment. I remember a story I read recently about a guy dealing with border agents at an airport in the states. He refused to answer any of their questions and complied only up to what was lawfully required. And that did not go well. I can't find the link though.



Thanks!


Actually in this case, talking to the police worked out just fine. They concluded he was "boring" and left him alone. If he'd clammed up they would have concluded he had something to hide.


I'm not so certain they aren't still checking him out. That sentence was very odd at the end of that discussion. They wouldn't be placing a device there for fun (I hope)




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