You would think that with all of the television programs that address the suspects right to remain silent in television dramas or actual coverage of criminal court proceedings people would be more likely to decline the invitation to incriminate themselves when under investigation by police detectives. Certainly everyone knows by now that it is an absolute best practice not to discuss the facts of the criminal investigation when either being accused or suspected.
Why are criminal lawyers seeing more instances of people who waive their right to remain silent?
In Florida, Miranda warnings are advised to an individual who is technically in custody and being questioned about a crime in which they are suspected of having some involvement in. Miranda warnings are more commonly known as “the reading of rights.” Although you have heard it before, let me tell you again. Do not talk to police officers about any crime being investigated of which you are considered a suspect and asked to volunteer information. Understand that what you are being asked by detectives is whether or not you would like to participate in making their job very easy in seeking to convict you.
A popular comedian is quoted as saying “I knew I had the right to remain silent, I just didn’t have the ability.”
Year after year the South Florida criminal defense attorneys that my law firm have defended individuals whereby the most damaging evidence used against them were their own statements. Incriminating evidence flat-out volunteered by the criminal defendant. Admissions or confessions that made a prosecutor’s case. Statements that if had not been made would have left prosecutors with no choice but to decline any and all prosecution.
I am left to wonder why year after year I am seeing more cases that involve a client who has waived their right to remain silent, waived their right to counsel and instead chosen to discuss the facts of a crime for which they are being investigated. These discussions strengthen an assistant state attorney’s case against them every time. I have yet to truly see a client who has actually benefited by talking to police officers about the facts of the case to which they were a suspect.
It is difficult to understand how a more educated society can yield more instances of volunteered statements to police officers. It is even more difficult to accept the ever increasing amount of criminal defendants who have chosen to volunteer information that is ultimately used against them where it would appear that interrogation tricks by law enforcement officers has appeared to decline over the years.
As criminal defense lawyers, we cannot be on the scene and whisper into the ears of those approached by police officers and asked to provide evidence that will be used to convict them. Public awareness as to the importance of remaining silent when under investigation also seems to have no effect based on the increased amount of cases involving criminal defendants who have waived their rights and volunteered incriminating evidence.
In early 2014, we presented a lecture whereby Miranda rights were discussed. This lecture has since been reviewed thousands of times via the Internet across the country. Let’s listen to an excerpt from that 2014 Miranda warning segment.
(segment on the right to remain silent)
It is hard to imagine that the general public could be more adequately informed about the importance of a suspects remaining silent during the investigation of criminal acts for which they are accused. Never before has this issue been made more apparent on television shows, reality or fictitious, Internet broadcasts, criminal law lectures or legal publications.
Remember if you are being investigated for crime, the chances that you are going to be able to say something to police officers that removes you from the prime suspect list is all but nonexistent. It is true that your silence can never be used against you in any criminal prosecution. Most importantly, if you are being questioned about a crime for which you are a suspect, know this:
There is an excellent chance that the reason you are being questioned is because detectives investigating the case do not have enough evidence to go forward with filing formal charges against you. Under these circumstances, these investigating officers are hoping that you like so many others will waive your right to remain silent and offer the testimony and evidence that they need to not only file but obtain a conviction for the crimes for which you are under investigation.
if you have a story that involves a suspect in South Florida who was convicted based primarily upon evidence that was volunteered in waiver of Miranda, we would love to hear about it. Share your story with Criminal Defense Attorney William Moore in Broward County Florida. Or drop by our office located at 1 financial Plaza, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394. You may also call us at 954-523-5333. We look forward to hearing from you.