You’ve seen it countless times on television crime dramas – a suspect is arrested and told by law enforcement, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.” This is taken from the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Miranda v. Arizona where the High Court interpreted the right a person in the U.S. has, according to the Fifth Amendment to the constitution, not to be compelled “to be a witness against himself” in a Criminal Case. The important word here is “compelled.”
You Are Not Being Compelled When You Make Voluntary Statements
Although you cannot be “compelled” to be a witness against yourself, with only a few exceptions, statements you make voluntarily can and will be used against you. This includes any statements you make to your best friend even you are talking to him or her to get advice. Prosecutors often subpoena friends to come to court and answer questions about what you said to them about the offense. If friends refuse to answer, they can be charged with contempt of court.
Giving Friends Inconsistent Statements
You may think there is no problem, because when you have talked to your friends, you have not made any admissions and have, in fact, been denied being involved in any criminal activity. If you have made any inconsistent statements, no matter how minor they may seem to you, they can be used to impeach you. For example, if you tell one friend you got home the night of the alleged crime at 8 p.m. and were watching “Wheel of Fortune” on television, and you tell another friend you got home at 7 p.m. and were watching “Wild World of Sports,” the conflicting statements can be used against you to make you appear as someone who lies to your friends, so are likely to be lying about your non-involvement in the charged offense.
If you are charged with any criminal offense, or discover you are being investigated for having committed an offense, do not speak to anyone, not your best friend, cell mate or even your wife until you contact us at the Law Office of James Davis, P.A. We will work with you to determine the best approach for your case. At our office, you will find a Jacksonville defense lawyer who will work to secure the best possible defense for your individual case.