Why What You Say Can Harm Your Defence

November 3, 2017 11:00 am

You have probably seen in television programs or films when someone gets arrested they are told “You don’t have to say anything but it may harm your defence if you do.” This does raise the question – what could you say that could harm your defence and what should you be aware of? In this article we are going to look at this so that in the event of being arrested you can be prepared.

You can stay silent

Another common thing people know about is “the right to remain silent”. Essentially you do not need to answer an officer’s questions if you don’t want to or you can simply say “No comment.” People often do this as a means of ensuring they do not unintentionally incriminate themselves.

That being said sometimes this can do more harm than good, if you have a reasonable defence then you should say it as soon as possible. This is important for a couple of reasons – one is so that it may mean that you are released and there is no need for a case to go to court.

Another reason is that if you do not give your defence then someone looking at the case can quite reasonably say “If you had a defence why didn’t you say so at the time?”

A stressful situation

Another reason why people need to be careful is the simple fact that people can say things during an interview in a moment of vulnerability. There is also what is known as the “halo effect” whereby someone when being questioned gives the answers they think an interviewer wants to hear as opposed to what they really think.

There is also the fact that if someone isn’t a native English speaker, is on drugs or a younger person being arrested they may not fully realise what they are being accused of or may not be fully sure how to process what they are told.

While officers are trained to explain why someone has been arrested and to provide details this is not necessarily standardised and inevitably this will depend on how well the officer has been trained, how experienced they are and their ability to communicate with the person who has been arrested.

Making it clear

It should also be said that you are legally entitled to say to an arresting officer “I do not wish to answer any questions until I have spoken to my legal representative.”

You can still cooperate but it does mean that you can get the chance to talk to them first before any questions come up. It is important to emphasise that you have the right to silence and you do not need to answer any questions you don’t want to.

If you are looking for legal advice please contact Larcomes today to get in contact with one of our specialist legal professionals. We have the experienced professionals and resources to help represent you in the best way and guide you through any difficult legal situations.


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