Chad Perrin: SOB

13 May 2008

Don’t talk to the police. Ever.

Filed under: Liberty — apotheon @ 02:03

Today, I discovered a couple of resources on what you should say to police. One, I found on my own:

Don’t talk to cops!

It’s just text, and a reasonably quick read.

The other was a link sent to me via IMs by someone I know from high school:

Don’t Talk to Police

That second one is a WMV file — a video recording of a lecture by a law professor, with some follow-up by a police officer (who I’m pretty sure is one of the professor’s students, studying to become a lawyer himself). This law professor is good, and worth watching, even if the entire video (including the cop) is something like 50 minutes.

“mcsalmon” had this to say in reddit discussion:

The video linked to is an hour long and worth every minute spent watching it. It’s a brilliant deconstruction of the 5th amendment and it’s intent and it’s modern usage. Highly recommended.

Moral of the story: Don’t tell the police anything.

First example:

  • Cop – “Do you know how fast you were going?”
  • Me – “I have nothing to say.”

Second example:

  • Cop – “Would you mind answering some questions?”
  • Me – “I have nothing to say.”

Third example:

  • Cop – “We’ve been sitting in this interrogation room for ten hours. I’m making $60 per hour in overtime. I can sit here for another twenty, at that rate. Are you sure you don’t want to say anything?”
  • Me – “I have nothing to say.”

If you’re going to tell a cop anything other than “I have nothing to say,” it should be “. . . without an attorney present.”

It doesn’t matter if you’re innocent of wrongdoing, will say nothing but the truth (even by accident), and were 1000 miles away from the scene of the crime — saying something can get you convicted. It doesn’t matter if you use the word “hypothetically” all the time, either. It really doesn’t matter if something is said to be “off the record” (there’s no such thing according to the cop in the video). Just don’t do it.

Remember, Martha Stewart wasn’t convicted of wrongdoing — she was convicted of saying something that sounded like a lie in a court of law. Remember, if you say something and a police officer misremembers it later, it’s your word against his — and jurors are more likely to believe a cop. Just don’t tell them anything.

It’s a lesson I’ll take to heart.


  1. I have nothing to say.

    Comment by Chaos Motor — 13 May 2008 @ 03:24

  2. I have nothing to say.

    Comment by Jack — 13 May 2008 @ 03:26

  3. I have something to say… but I won’t.

    Comment by Anonymous — 13 May 2008 @ 04:17

  4. The simplistic jokes were funny at first, but I’ve started deleting them when they show up in moderation. Please stop repeating the same dull “humor” used by the last twelve people who came through here if you want to say something.

    Comment by apotheon — 13 May 2008 @ 05:30

  5. David Simon makes exactly the same point in Homicide A Year on the Killing Streets. Detectives do not have your best interest in mind and there is absolutely no reason to talk to them without an attorney present. Period.

    Comment by nunya…nunyabizniz — 13 May 2008 @ 06:01

  6. First interesting comment! You win a cookie.

    Welcome to SOB, nunya.

    Comment by apotheon — 13 May 2008 @ 06:13

  7. Perhaps I have too much faith in the justice system, but it seems like refusing to say anything is more likely to get you in trouble than telling the truth. If you don’t say anything, the assumption is that you’re hiding something. I’d rather risk a cop misremembering something than have him imagine I’m up to no good when I’m not because I won’t answer his questions.

    Comment by Cody — 13 May 2008 @ 07:06

  8. The technically correct answer is:

    “I would like to speak to my attorney.”

    Cop: “You don’t have the right to an attorney. Will you take a breath test/Can I look in your car?”

    Ans: “I would like to speak to my attorney.”

    Cop: “Who is your attorney?”

    Ans: “I would like to speak to my attorney.”

    This is a critical distinction: The 5th amendment right to silence has two (2) requirements: 1) The person is in custody (and not a “temporary detention,” and; 2) subject to custodial interrogation.

    The sixth amendment is far stronger, hence the request for a lawyer.

    You cannot talk yourself out of the ride, don’t even try.

    Comment by Stephen G. Cobb — 13 May 2008 @ 07:52

  9. I took a law enforcement class way back in high school, and my teacher was a cop. He told us when they would say “you have the right to remain silent” most people freak out and can’t stop talking. They freak out and think “I’m being arrested, I have to talk my way out of this. They are reasonable, if I can just let them understand my point of view they’ll let me go.” He stressed the point though that they are not reasonable. They are not sympathetic to your point of view. With every word you speak to them you are digging yourself deeper. “You have the right to remain silent” isn’t a condemnation, it’s advice. If you want to have any chance of beating whatever rap they are trying to pin on you, heed their advice and “keep your damn mouth shut”.

    Comment by Doug — 13 May 2008 @ 08:08

  10. Cody just don’t get it.

    Comment by Hey Cody — 13 May 2008 @ 08:56

  11. When I was interrogated, the cops took notes on paper. It’s true that they make stuff up, big picture lies and inane little details. Also, what they left out damned me too. They claimed I showed no remorse even though I asked several times to get me in contact with the offended party so that I could apologize. Video tape would have been better. Not talking at all would have been best.

    Comment by Matt — 13 May 2008 @ 09:15

  12. I was stopped once in a suburb of Mexico City when riding my motorcycle by a Mexican motorcycle cop. He smiled, greeted me (“buenos dias, senor”), shook my hand, and introduced himself. He then reviewed my documentation (hoping to get a “mordita”). I was a bit nervous and dropped my drivers license–he stooped down, picked up my license, and returned it to me. When he found that my documentation was in order, he thanked me for my cooperation and asked my permission to leave (“con permiso”). I’m not saying that these cops don’t have their faults, but it’s sure a refreshing contrast to being stopped by the typical American police officer.

    What I wonder is why American policemen are such assholes. Were they once good guys that became assholes on the job, or does the recruiting process filter out the non-assholes?

    Comment by g. Anton — 13 May 2008 @ 09:20

  13. “What I wonder is why American policemen are such assholes. Were they once good guys that became assholes on the job, or does the recruiting process filter out the non-assholes?”

    I personally know four childhood friends who later became cops. The answer is they become assholes on the job. It’s the culture of having the power to arrest, the right to carry a gun, the power to kill, and when it’s your word against theirs, they win 99% of the time. It changes them. I had a neighbor who was a cop, and one day he pulled me over for not coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. When he realized who I was, he got all neighborly and almost felt embarrased for pulling me over. But had I been someone else, I’m sure in his righteousness he would have ticketed me. One piece of advice I have is to always treat them nicely and with respect. Try to break through the public defender persona and treat them like a human, with a spouse and kids, god it’s hot today, been on your shift real long? etc. Suddenly they act normal. But as the article says, once they utter “you have the right..” then just shut up.

    Comment by bob — 13 May 2008 @ 10:39

  14. Intresting, the police in Mexico is known to be pretty corrupt. In fact, the Lonely Planet advises people not to contact the police at all.

    (please forgive my poor english)

    Comment by Martin F — 14 May 2008 @ 02:06

  15. I can tell you from personal experience, dont say a damn word. The advice on this page is dead on and anyone that thinks they can talk to a cop, innocent or guilty, and come out better is deceiving themselves. I have sadly, empirically proven this…

    Comment by Rahn — 14 May 2008 @ 06:50

  16. By the time they say “You have the right to remain silent”, you’ve probably said too much already. You’ve already hung yourself, as you are now in ‘custody’ (hence the term…custodial interrogation). As the article says….from the beginning, just shut up. Exercise your right to remain silent. Cops will only remember the one percent of your statement that incriminates you, and discard the rest, no matter how much the remaining 99 % might exonerate you.
    Step one: “I have nothing to say” Step two: Repeat step one.

    Comment by Ex-Cop Mike — 14 May 2008 @ 11:13

  17. 1.- Do I know you? No. Good-bye. 2.- What level of (security) Clearence do You have? Prove it, and it better be higher than mine. 3.- Why? and Why are you asking me? (unsolicited, groping for information is always supisious, and usually unreliable, and may become unsubstancious) 4.- Anyone who needs to know anything, and would think that I could / would be helpfull with information, would know what chanals to follow. And would be quickly advised to do so.

    Ok, that’s just me. I’m kind of quirky that way.

    BTW apotheon, do you have another link to the Professor’s Lecture. That one seems to want to do “i-tunes” or some such thing. And I get a warning about “”Windows Media Player Core” from “Microsoft Corporation”. oooh, now hasme wondering…. -d

    Comment by dawgit / D.Taylor — 14 May 2008 @ 11:14

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  20. Being innocent is no excuse.

    The only thing you should do when approached by any officer under any circumstances is to indentify yourself as requested, and then refuse further conversation.

    You will not make them happy by doing so – it’s not your job to make them happy. Your job is to prevent yourself from being victimized.

    Comment by Good video, great advice — 26 May 2008 @ 06:18

  21. Your job is to prevent yourself from being victimized.

    Thanks for the input — and, of course, I agree with your entire comment (and that last sentence is really the key). Welcome to SOB, whoever you are.

    As for dawgit . . . I seem to have missed your response until now. Sorry about that.

    No — I don’t have another link handy right now. Maybe you could try the site again to get the video, now that traffic to it may have died down a little.

    Comment by apotheon — 26 May 2008 @ 07:39

  22. […] When it’s all over, though, remember — Don’t talk to the police. […]

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  24. This is an astounding piece of legal advice and it’s FREE.

    I wish it were available in text as well as video. Every person should see it!

    Comment by John Roberts — 27 May 2009 @ 08:09

  25. Well Done. Say nothing. Learn from the experts. If you can’t accept expert advice, you deserve what you get (which means legal punishment). You’ve been warned, by a lawyer and a Cop, and STILL you need to talk…

    Comment by johnscott — 30 November 2009 @ 09:11

  26. dont talk to the police, dont call the police. i have been involved in some hairy work situations and some situations involving harrasement and each time the police not only took the females side, the police and owner of a job gave someone who was harrasive towards me private police information and ignored my complaints of harrasment. one of the things is see now and believe is the police routinely are manipulating complaint information to help prosecuters. having the police involved in complaint information is a little like having al capone be asked to do mob taxes (clear conflict of interest as the police make money off catching criminals). everytime i have gotten involved with the police (while i have no “jail record” i have a history of complaints made against me) the police lie, manipulate, coach and do all sorts of nefarious tacktics to “catch criminals” so they can work around the law, manipulating complaint data is just one of their techniques. your better off unless someone is pointing a gun at your head to not call the police, even then its too late. your a mealticket to the police if your a criminal a notch up on thier badge. i also had a friend have an officer shove a tape recorder down his pants pocket and have a “friendly interview” have him sign papers saying he after comming out and giving a standard “real interview” with a tape did not realing the cop wanted to go through the tape and re-edit it. they call cops pigs for a reason. police lie and manipulate legal info regularly, i also believe strongly they do so to “profile” people and have your complaint history on computer attached to your drivers liscense when they pull you over. this is why people who have records get deeper and deeper into jailtime as it gives police a biase against putting you in jail.

    Comment by anon — 4 February 2010 @ 06:25

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