Top positive review
Firmly ask for a lawyer
Reviewed in the United States on March 27, 2018
More pamphlet than book, and with a single message: don’t talk to police.
Here’s the summary:
By law, a prosecutor can see to it that nothing you tell the police is used in court to help you. That’s a law. Save the good stuff for your lawyer and your day in court!
Conversely, everything you tell the police can be used in court to hurt your case:
• You may inadvertently tell them something inaccurate; potentially, that’s perjury.
• You could waste a perfectly good alibi by getting a detail wrong.
• You may tell them something absolutely correct that some expert falsely disputes and then you’ve lied, again, and you’ve provided them with an “aha” moment for the jury.
• You may tell them something that to you seems irrelevant, but to them helps bolster or build a case against you out of nothing.
• You may even bend under their pressure and confess to something you did not do!
The cops are allowed to lie to extract a confession: they can lie about whether you’re a suspect or not, they can lie about what you’re suspected of, they can lie about details of the case, they are in all probability lying about any lenience they may be offering you, they are trained to legally set you up to look like you possess information that you only could have gotten if you were at the scene of the crime. They are very unlikely to transcribe or record your conversation accurately and, again, any errors will play against you.
The police can legally feed back everything you discussed with them to whoever is accusing you and help them build their case!
None of this is because the police are bad; it’s because they are people. As people they are both fallible and liable to look for every possible angle that can support an initial wrong guess. Some may even be more than fallible and venal and not want to admit they were wrong to suspect you.
Keeping quiet can help you stay away from all this trouble.
Sadly, even this advice is no longer perfect, because the Supreme Court has ruled that an innocent person would have no reason to say something as straightforward as “I would not like to speak with you because the constitution affords me the right to avoid self-incrimination.” These days, you have to invoke a different constitutional right and firmly ask for a lawyer!
So that’s what the book says. I have plenty to add, but will keep it brief:
I’ll be fifty in June, so now I have friends who have gone to jail. It is invariably for a statement they have naively given, which the cop afterwards baptized “a confession.” But don’t take it from me, read Michael Lewis’ book about Sergey Aleynikov; or compare and contrast what happened to the Barclays guys (who asked for a lawyer) and the Citibank guy, who spent 86 hours talking to the cops first. The way a dear friend tells it who got 13 years for a crime he had nothing to do with, “jail is for the stupid.” (The Greek word he used has three a’s in it.)
In short, the justice system is a system that closes cases, not a system that seeks justice. The antechamber of this Kafkaesque hell is the police station. If you have not managed to avoid the visit to the antechamber, keep stumm until you’ve hired the best legal help you can. In doing so, you’re hiring part of the system, you’re paying cash into the system, you’re getting the system on side. And you’re involving part of the system that’s a pay grade (or ten) above the cop who’s looking to feed you with your confession and write it up for you. That’s your best bet.