You’re finally out of the interrogation room.
You’ve been bailed out of jail.
You’ve even obtained a private lawyer who can help you with your case. Right now, your situation is about as good as it can get, right? So maybe you feel like you can relax a little while awaiting trial.
But the entire experience angers and frustrates you. You haven’t even done anything, and now your life is in danger of going right off the rails. It’s very natural to want to vent.
Resist the urge.
Remember how anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law? That doesn’t really end once you leave the police station.
Anything you say to family members, friends, or coworkers could also be used against you. All the prosecution has to do is subpoena any of these people as a witness. Once on the stand, they can be compelled to testify against you.
Spousal privilege exists, which means your spouse can’t be called to testify against you in most cases. But be careful. There are ways around this. And your mom, aunt, uncle, brother, sister, or child does not enjoy the same privilege.
The prosecutor could hone in on some innocuous part of a rant you went on and use it to convince the jury you are guilty as sin.
If you jump on social media and start venting you’re really asking for trouble. Those records can be printed out and entered into evidence.
And you’d really, truly be surprised what can be used against you. You could say things on social media which you think clear your name and which you think will reassure your friends you really are innocent.
And those things can be twisted, turned around, and used to place you at certain locations at certain times, or to prove you had access to something you would have needed to have access to in order to commit the crime.
But everyone’s asking me about my case. What do I say?
The only thing you should say is, “I’ve chosen to plead ‘not guilty’ and I can’t really discuss the case.”
Or, “I’m innocent, I’m pleading not guilty, and I can’t really discuss the case.”
And you should just stay off your social media accounts altogether. The urge to defend your name will be very strong if you see gossip flying around. Just remember, your real friends won’t do that, and your fair-weather-friends aren’t the ones who will decide whether you spend the next ten, twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years in prison.
The only person who should ever hear a word about your case is your lawyer. Your lawyer is the only person who is covered by attorney-client privilege. The only person who can’t be compelled to testify against you.
The only exception may be a member of the clergy acting in a confessor’s role, and even that’s not always a sure thing. And that’s true even though New York was the very first state to recognize clergy-penitent privilege.
In certain circumstances even your therapist can be compelled to testify against you.
Loose lips sink ships. Play your cards close to your chest if you want to increase your chances of coming out of this case a free person.
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