5 Ways to Avoid Self-Incrimination

January 10, 2018 | Category: Civil Rights
  1. Do not consent to a search: If a police officer does not have a warrant, you do not and should not allow him or her to search your property. Police are permitted to lie in the course of an investigation- they may tell you that they will get a warrant, and it will be better for you to consent. Even if you do not believe that you have anything incriminating in or on your property, do not consent to a warrantless search.
  2. Do not talk to co-workers, family, or friends: You may believe that you are confiding in someone that you can trust, but circumstances can always change. Police may pressure someone you love to divulge entrusted information. Your relationship with someone close to you may become strained and they may feel inclined to speak to police. This type of hearsay is not admissible in court; however, it may be used to obtain search and arrest warrants.
  3. Do not post on social media: Increasingly, police agencies are relying on social media for investigations. (Learn more here.) Do not be fooled by privacy settings. Do not assume that a deleted post is hidden from the public forever. You most likely do not know every one of your friends or followers. You cannot, most likely, explicitly trust every one of your friends or followers. If you post something incriminating, it can and most likely will be used against you. Even if you are innocent, a seemingly mundane post may be taken out of context and used against you. 
  4. Do not “explain” your actions to police: Many people believe that their actions, even their illegal actions, are justifiable. Many believe that if they could just explain what happened to police officers, what they did would not seem that bad and the police would understand. The police do not care why you did what you did. The police care that you broke the law. If you attempt to explain your actions you are, in effect, incriminating yourself.
  5. Do not smoke marijuana in your car: Most people are arrested and convicted because of their own blatant criminal behavior. Smoking marijuana in a car is a popular example of this- police officers will be able to smell marijuana, no matter how much you attempt to mask the scent. That smell could lead to you being charged with a DUI, possession, and/or distribution. Simply avoiding conspicuous illegal activity is the best way to avoid incriminating yourself.

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