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.
Casey Kovacic is an Oregon criminal defense and expungement lawyer practicing in the greater Portland, Oregon metropolitan area. He handles every type of Oregon state criminal case and helps clients clear their records. He brings an unwavering commitment to pursuing a fair and just outcome for every client he defends.