Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ithaca Lawyer The Dangers of Talking with ADAs, DAs, law enforcement, and Judges

Found by Cornell
Speaking of dangerous, this is what was missing from my youth.

Many things are known to be dangerous. Skydiving, scuba diving, mountain climbing, bungee jumping..maybe that's why I tend to avoid activities that are high risk. BTW TV, going to the movies, and reading are real activities just not real active physically.

But come on , Is talking to people really dangerous? In my best lawyer voice I state, "Well it depends"

first, who are you talking to? where are you talking to them? and lastly what are you talking about?
Sometimes talking to the wrong person at the wrong time and wrong place can be worse than free falling.

Real Life Can Bite You in the Tuchas 

Imagine this scenario: you are arrested, charged, booked, and printed for something you did not do or did not do FULLY (it is a defense perspective). Now you are brought into Court in front of a Judge, he asks you how you plea, guilty or NOT guilty and you say ,,,  "guilty" OMG now what?

Well this situation I just described happened this past summer to two college girls from out of state. It was a little backwoods Courthouse with a big judge, and they were scared. With No lawyer at their side, and No understanding of the process they were cooked before they got there.  Anyway, I later entered the scene and took back their guilty pleas to their crimes (criminal misdemeanors). Remember that Guilty Pleas must always be VIK (Voluntary, Intelligent, and Knowing). Why anyone would want to plea to the ALL the charges in this type of situation is a story for another day.

The Big Who

So how dangerous is talking? Well WHO are you talking to? Are they friend or foe? Being friendly is not the same as being your friend. Remember, it's always us against them, you and your attorney are the us, and the them is (are) everyone else.

When the people you are talking to have power, authority and a job to prosecute you, sentence you, and testify against you then your talking to and with them is rather dangerous. It's the old fable of the scorpion and the frog (go read it), bottom line, scorpions have to sting, it's their nature. Very easy, just remember the noun becomes the VERB!

Law Enforcement: Enforce (the Law)
Judges: Judge
Prosecutors: Prosecute

Ever hear of the 5th amendment, Your Right to Remain Silent? Silence is golden in this situation because ANYTHING you say can and will be used against you. That is why it is not the best idea to talk directly to law enforcement, the judge, and/or a prosecutor. Generally speaking by making further admissions (statements) you are NOT helping your case. In fact in the majority of cases, further talking is going to bury you more.

Statements made to these people are noted. They will later turn around, and hit you over the head with your own honesty like a mother wielding guilt for something you did 10 years ago.

Your honesty at this stage and place (without counsel) is misplaced at best, and highly dangerous at worst.  

Lawyer as Filter

Your lawyer is your advocate but they also act as a filter. They take it all in (facts, information) and then clean it up, re-package it, and maybe explain things in a specific context. They can be neutral, objective, and unattached. The power of this lies in art and science. How you say things, describe things, and tell a story can be the difference between tasting lemons or lemonade. Your lawyer can help you carefully navigate the legal minefield of your situation.

The Guilty with an Explanation

I am in Court quite a lot and how many times am I going to hear, I am guilty your Honor BUT with a explanation. When you start explaining anything you are done, as in fully cooked. Explaining yourself out of trouble is an ineffective strategy. WHY?

You have been charged, you are alleged to have done SUMTING! Either you did something you or did not do something. Usually justification (I did it because I had to) defenses are rare. Most situations that you consider emergencies are not in the eyes of the law. Bringing up your personal issues, like a death in the family, recent divorce, loss of a job, or medical diagnosis is not going to get you sympathy or empathy. Everyone has problems but they (the authorities/the government) will not place themselves in your shoes. They will see themselves as above your acts and actions.

To them your explanation is merely a nice way of excusing yourself, and nothing more. Explanation is given short drift by the majority, and will cut against you more than for your cause.

Sometimes the best thing you can do is Shut Up! Let your lawyer do their job. Allow them to be your spokesperson, your advocate, and your indirect line of communication with the Court, the authorities, and the prosecutors.


Dr. Lawrence Newman
Doctor of Chiropractic
Attorney and Counselor at Law

Ithaca, NY