Building on his much-viewed YouTube video “Don’t Talk to the Police,” former criminal defense attorney and legal scholar Duane (Regent Univ. School of Law) offers a cogent, concise argument for keeping silent.
Why is it, asks the author, that public officials who are being questioned so often invoke their constitutional right not to self-incriminate? Because they know the law. More to the point, he suggests, they know the many ways in which all-too-human investigators can misinterpret and twist words—and that the system is fundamentally corrupt to begin with. Though the last bit may be cynical, Duane means it without hyperbole: on any given day, an American adult breaks three laws without even knowing that he or she has done so, very often as a result of unforeseen consequences of good intentions. “That is why,” Duane writes, “you cannot listen to your conscience when faced by a police officer and think, I have nothing to hide.” If the law is corrupt, then so are law enforcement officers, not necessarily out of evil intent but because they have quotas to fulfill, performance evaluations to meet, and so on—and because, increasingly, there’s an us-against-the-world mentality governing the precinct house. So what to do? Duane counsels common sense, noting that there are reasons and situations that call for cooperating with the police. If, however, there’s the remotest chance that suspicion will fall on you, he adds, then it’s a good idea to think Fifth (and Sixth) Amendment and to remember that, thanks to Antonin Scalia’s influence on the Supreme Court, it’s no longer possible to believe that “only guilty people would ever knowingly refuse to talk to the police,” even if the police and the courts seem to think so.
Well-informed, scary, sobering, and sure to tick off police officers and prosecutors even as it contributes to keeping innocent people out of jail.