When it comes to mounting a successful criminal defense, one of the most important aspects is having an understanding of your basic rights. Police officers will happily manipulate you into giving up your rights or trick you into making mistakes that could harm your position in criminal court.
Your right to remain silent is one of the most important protections you have as a criminal defendant. Unlike in other countries, you are under no obligation to provide details to the police now if you want to use them in your defense later.
Your right to remain silent isn’t just important during your initial interaction with the police or any questioning after your. It is also important during most interactions until you secure your release from state custody.
Anyone in state facilities could be an informant
While there are now many people and organizations challenging the practice of using jailhouse informants, many police departments and prosecutors see no issue with the practice. Texas has implemented some rules restricting the practice, but it is still common.
Someone else facing charges could relay anything you say to them or that they overhear you saying to another person to state authorities. They could potentially secure a lesser sentence in their own case in turn for those statements. Obviously, the possible penalties may create powerful motivation for people to exaggerate or lie. Anything you say that might implicate you could end up affecting your criminal case, even if you say it to your roommate and not a police officer.
Your phone calls are not private
It is a common mistake for people in state custody to think that when they make their one phone call that they can talk about anything. It is surprisingly common for people to call family members or even criminal accomplices while in state custody and then discuss the charges against them or the precipitating incident that led to their arrest.
Anything you say over the phone while in state custody is subject to review by the police. Unless you are on the phone with your attorney and advise the police of that fact, they could potentially monitor or record any call you make from telecommunication systems in the jail or prison.
Understanding and making use of your right to remain silent will make it far easier for you to defend against criminal charges because the police will have less evidence to use against you.