1. Good: Consider Pleading the Fifth
Individuals are shielded from self-incrimination under the Fifth Amendment, by choosing to remain silent. To commit self-incrimination, you must either purposefully or inadvertently disclose information that might lead to criminal charges against you.
All criminal cases could potentially be avoided if suspects do not answer inquiries, do not make potentially damning remarks, or refuse to testify. Hiring a good lawyer immediately would be step two in avoiding criminal charges.
But in real life, that seldom occurs.
Federal Provisions That Safeguard Against Self-Incrimination
Incrimination is not complete once guilt has been adjudicated, and hence the privilege may be asserted during the sentencing phase of trial.
The Supreme Court concluded that when a person is detained or otherwise deprived of their liberty by the authorities, the right against self-incrimination is threatened, as stated in the Fourth Amendment. Self-incriminating remarks by a person will be inadmissible in court if they are unaware of their legal privileges (such as the right to counsel and keep quiet), thus the Miranda Rights were born.
In Schmerber v. California, the U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Fifth Amendment does not prevent a court from admitting evidence of a drunken-driving defendant’s blood test showing an illegal blood alcohol level. The Court explains that because the blood test results are not “testimony nor evidence relating to some communicative act or writing” by the defendant, the use of those results at trial does not violate his right against self-incrimination. ~ Annenberg Classroom
The Supreme Court interpreted this right to not testify against oneself in a restrictive manner.
Despite having immunity, a witness who refuses to testify for fear of incriminating themselves might be compelled to do so by the presiding court. A witness who refuses to comply with a judge’s order may be found in contempt of court.
2. Bad: Methods of Self-Incrimination
Even if it is your first brush with the law, facing criminal charges may be stressful and difficult. It would help if you were concerned about several things to get the most satisfactory potential result. You could do anything to get it over with as soon as possible. You’ll be OK if you’re not too cooperative or open.
Unintentional self-incrimination may take place in any or all of these three methods:
Talking to the police
The police can and will lie to catch you in a lie, and often will present themselves as trying to “help you”. That is false. They are building their case against you. Remain silent and call a lawyer.
Posts on social media
Protecting yourself online doesn’t depend on the settings and available deletions. Social media might do more damage than good when facing criminal accusations. The prosecution might use your status updates, images, and other data to corroborate your story and expose any inconsistencies. If new illicit behavior is discovered, they might face additional charges.
Lack of faith in oneself
Police officials are well-versed in the art of coercing confessions from suspects. They are trained to spot your weakness and exploit it to get you to incriminate yourself or confess to the crime you are accused of.
We cannot stress enough: Do not speak to the police without an attorney present; he/she/they will have your best interests at heart.
Communication while incarcerated
Keep an eye on what you say to loved ones while you’re in prison while your case is pending. Prosecutors have access to every discussion. They have even planted spies in jail to obtain information from suspects. Those closest to you may even choose to give up the knowledge you share with them freely. Watch what you say to other convicts as well. People who submit information to prosecutors about you may hope to better their status. There’s a sad truth: You should be more cautious about blindly trusting anybody now.
In the context of a legal proceeding, incriminating remarks that are coerced from a defendant are referred to as “compelled self-incrimination”. Some situations that qualify as examples of coerced self-incrimination are those in which the authorities:
- Coerce a confession out of someone by resorting to violence, threats of violence, or intimidation.
- Make a member of your family or a loved one fear for their safety to coerce them into confessing or providing proof.
- Use the threat of taking away a suspect’s items to get them to talk.
- Continue to question the defendant even if they refuse to answer your questions because a lawyer has not accompanied them.
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Need a Lawyer?
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges of any kind in Southern California, you need to hire a Los Angeles defense attorney who has long-standing professional relationships with the Judges and District Attorneys, as well as a proven track record. Don’t panic. We’re here to help.
Need an Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.