The only 4 Words You Should Ever Say to the Police

You should NEVER talk to cops. At least that's the radical advice that James Duane, a professor at Virginia's Regent Law School has been pushing. The law professor's advice in a YouTube video has gone viral since the Netflix series Making a Murderer has generated interest in false confessions. Duane has also published a new book on the topic called, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent. But why does he give this advice? Is it even right?

Continue reading below

The book's premise is that even if you've done nothing wrong, it's still risky to talk to police officers. You might make mistakes explaining what you were doing causing the police to think you are lying, the cop may remember what you said differently than you said it, or may try to trick you into admitting something you didn't do. If you add in a few faulty eyewitnesses and some bad luck, you could get convicted of a serious crime you didn't commit.

His book gives examples of this happening to people around the country but also advises people against pleading the Fifth, or refusing to answer the police's questions. A Supreme Court decision in 2013 ruled that your decision to remain silent can be used against you as evidence of guilt.

Continue reading below

The referenced Vice article mentions that the only time to talk to the cops is when they find you doing something suspicious. It says that you are required to state your name and tell them what you are doing at that moment. Relaid consulted with a local lawyer who stated that even this is risky. The lawyer recommended that you only state your name and then ask for a lawyer. You do not need to tell the officer what you are doing.

So when approached by the police, remember these four words: I. Want. A. Lawyer ∎

To read the entire interview with Prof. Duane visit this Vice article.

To watch his viral video check out this YouTube.