Nov 19th 2008 By Tom O'Keefe
In Asylum's eternal quest to bring our readers the straight dope, we connected with legal expert and funny guy Tom O'Keefe to answer your burning legal questions. If you have questions you'd like answered in upcoming columns -- let us know.Q: If arrested, is remaining silent always the best move?
A: In 1959, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson wrote, "Any lawyer worth his salt will tell [a] suspect in no uncertain terms to make no statement to police under any circumstances." I'm hopeful that my worth in salt has held up better than the rest of my portfolio as of late, because I am heeding the justice's advice and passing it on to you. In other words, if you are arrested, keep your mouth shut!To Protect the Innocent
You may be thinking: "Tom, I'm innocent, surely I can persuade the "po-po" that they are mistaken." No, you can't, and don't call them the "po-po," that's just embarrassing for everyone.
No matter how eloquent you may think you are, nothing you say will convince any but the most Keystone of cops to let you go. In fact, you'll likely dig yourself into a bigger hole. As the Miranda warning provides, anything you say may be used against you (notice that it contains no converse stating "The stuff you say will be used to HELP you").
Guilty as Charged?
For those "less innocent," the advice is the same. Sure, confession may be good for the soul, but do you know who it's really good for? The police, the prosecutor and the criminal justice system -- everyone but the confessor. Anything you feel you need to get off your chest can be removed more delicately with the help of your attorney. You'll thank him or her later.
Unfortunately, silence is an option we often fail to choose when a girlfriend asks, "Have I gained weight?" or some jerk at the bar challenges, "You got a problem?" or an angry boss inquires, "What do you have to say for yourself?" But when you're arrested, remaining silent is not just an option, it's your right. So use it.