Criminal Law Professor James Duane recently wrote an informative op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about the harm of speaking to police, even when you've done nothing wrong. In the article, Duane focuses on false confessions, which most people assume either do not happen, or only happen in rare circumstances to low-functioning or otherwise vulnerable citizens. He specifically mentions the case of Eddie James Lowery, who was a 22-year-old U.S. Army soldier stationed at Ft. Riley, Kansas, when he was interrogated for an entire day about a rape and murder he never committed. Like a typical innocent man, he maintained his innocence for hours. And in typical fashion, the police officers acted open-minded, friendly, yet unconvinced. The police officers supplied Lowery with details of the crime – the house, the entry, the weapon, and specifics about the rape - details that were eventually incorporated into a confession. The false confession was given after hours of questioning and he was emotionally exhausted, and without a criminal defense attorney present. Lowery served more than 9 years in prison until he was released, after evidence surfaced that proved he was actually innocent.
The bottom line: Exercise your right to remain silent. If a police officer approaches you, ask the officer "Am I free to go?" If the officer says "yes," then you should leave. If the police officer says "no," then consider yourself a suspect and immediately exercise your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Do not try to talk the police officer into letting you go. Even if you're not offering a confession, any statements you make can, and often are, taken out of context and used against you in your prosecution. The police will arrest you if they have probable cause to do so, but being aware of your rights and consulting with an Oregon criminal defense attorney before making any statements, will improve your situation. By not talking to police, you will give your Oregon criminal defense attorney a better opportunity to prepare an effective defense on your behalf.
You can learn more about the Eddie James Lowery case here.
Contact Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyer Casey Kovacic before speaking to the police.
No one expects to be pulled over and arrested for DUI and it’s something that can be confusing and frightening if you don’t know what to do. Unfortunately, we all make mistakes, and when you have to face the consequences it’s a good idea to be prepared. There are many important parts of your life at stake in a DUI case: your job, your income and your family will all be dramatically affected if you are convicted. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may even be looking at potential jail time and large fines. If you’ve been arrested, it’s important to contact a Hillsboro, Beaverton, and Portland area DUI attorney right away to avoid these and other potentially life-changing issues.
Before talking to anyone or answering any questions from the police, it’s imperative to speak with a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. The best thing to do is to use your jail house phone call to contact a reliable relative or friend who can help bail you out of jail (if applicable), and who can get in touch with a reputable DUI attorney for you. You have a right to speak with an attorney after any arrest, so use that phone call wisely and make sure that an attorney is contacted as quickly as possible on your behalf.
Talking to attorney before you speak to anyone else gives you the chance to learn more about your rights in the situation before you start giving statements and potentially incriminating yourself. DUI laws are stiff in Oregon, and it’s easy to get yourself into deeper trouble when speaking to the police after an accident simply based on statements that you make. The advice that any DUI attorney will give you is to stay calm and politely refuse to answer any questions until your attorney is present. That’s the smartest approach you can take, and it can help spare you even bigger troubles down the road.
Casey Kovacic is a criminal defense lawyer practicing in the greater Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. He handles every type of Oregon state criminal case. From DUI's and other misdemeanors to homicide charges, he brings an unwavering commitment to pursuing a fair and just outcome for every client he defends.