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Holland & Usry, P.A.

I failed to remain silent when questioned and admitted my involvement in a crime. The officer told me I had a right to remain silent, but he also said that if I cooperated and helped him, he would help me. Now they are telling me that I need to plead guilty. Is there any hope?

Yes. But first, let’s remember no competent criminal defense attorney would give blanket advice to every person out there faced with every possible situation to simply remain silent. Whether you have made a statement or not, if you are faced with a criminal investigation, you should contact an attorney immediately as to the best way to handle your situation. Each case is different and this is not intended as advice on your case.

When our firm is hired to represent someone in a criminal matter, we do not promise results, but we do promise to explore every avenue as allowed by the rules of the court and the law to obtain the best result that we can under the circumstances.

Breaking Your Silence Usually Helps the Prosecution

Most criminal defense attorneys recognize that if every criminal defendant exercised his right to remain silent, the number of convictions obtained by law enforcement and the solicitor’s office would decrease dramatically. Remember, you do not have to prove you are innocent, but rather the state must prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you don’t make a statement (after invoking your right to silence) or testify in your trial, the judge tells the jury they can’t even use that against you—they are not to consider it. This is why our firm has previously expressed said that testifying in your own defense is overrated.

But What If You Have Already Made a Statement?

When we take on a criminal case where a statement has been made, we look towards the following possibilities:

  • Corpus delicti: This is Latin for “body of the crime.” It represents the legal principle that before a person can be tried for a crime, it must be proven that a crime has actually been committed. For our purposes today, we’ll focus on one conclusion of this rule: it should require more than a defendant’s out-of-court confession to prove the defendant’s guilt. In other words, if the only way to prove the crime was committed was by the defendant’s out-of-court statement or confession, the person should be found not guilty. So when we have a case where a statement has been given we check to see if there is any other evidence to support a conviction. If not, we may be able to get the case thrown out.
  • Questioning violates certain rights: Before the police can question you about a crime to use in your prosecution, they are required to inform you of certain rights. You have the right to remain silent. Law enforcement has to inform you of this right before they interrogate you. If they fail to inform you of this, then it may be possible to have your statement suppressed, or excluded from the trial. Likewise, law enforcement has to inform you of your right to an attorney. If you ask for an attorney and are questioned anyway, it may be possible to have your statement suppressed. What we are really talking about is your statement being voluntary while aware of your rights, so if you are coerced or forced or otherwise tricked into giving a statement, action may be able to be taken to keep your statement out.

Sometimes you can’t talk your way out of getting charged

Many criminal suspects think that they can talk their way out of their situation by making a statement to police. This usually does not work. Sometimes you can’t talk your way out of things. The police may have already decided to charge you prior to ever talking to you. In these cases anything you say will simply be used against you. Even if innocent, some statements can be taken out of context; or, an innocent inconsistency may be used to suggest you are lying.

Sometimes a statement has been made and we just have to deal with it

When a statement has been made and we are unable to keep the statement out of court, we explore other possibilities to best address your statement in trial. For instance, it may make sense to admit the statement is true but that it doesn’t show the whole picture—and we can explain it in a way that minimizes the damage to your position. If a plea results we look at how the statement can be in included when we try to persuade the Court for a lenient sentence in mitigation, if that is the best avenue.

Again, each case is different. We would not tell a person never to speak to the police, just as we would not tell a person definitely to speak to the police without knowing the circumstances and facts of the particular situation. There are unique cases where we allow suspect or defendants to speak to law enforcement.

If you are charged with a crime—whether you have given a statement or not—or if you are under suspicion of and being investigated for criminal activity, act fast and contact a lawyer at once. If you would like the assistance of the attorneys at Holland & Usry, PA, please contact us at 864-582-0416 or toll free at 877-230-1841 for your free, confidential consultation.