Earl & Messer, Attorneys at Law
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Don't Let Law Enforcement Trick You into Making a Statement

Right after a person is arrested in Louisiana, and often times before the arrest, a law enforcement officer will attempt to get a defendant to make a statement, confession, or admission about the crime he is investigating. A person can usually rest assured that if law enforcement wants to speak with him or her about a crime, he or she is already a suspect and could be facing a Louisiana or Federal felony charge. The questioning often happens right after some stressful incident when the person may not be thinking clearly and attempts to talk his or her self out of an arrest. In my experience, no one ever talks themselves out of trouble with the police and the more one talks the more likely he or she is likely to wind up with a conviction based on the statement being used as evidence at trial.

To make matters worse, law enforcement officers have been known to bend the law when attempting to secure a damaging admission from a suspect. I recall one case when I was questioning a high ranking detective from the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and he told me that it was okay to lie to a defendant to try and get a confession because the Constitution said he could. I had a trial in East Baton Rouge where two police officers from the same police department took the stand and told two separate versions of the same arrest – both under an oath to tell the truth. It’s important to remember that no matter how knowledgeable of the Louisiana criminal justice system a defendant may be, law enforcement will still try to get an admission out of him to weaken any defense and ensure a conviction.  While hiring the best Louisiana criminal defense attorney you can after your arrest is a start, keeping your mouth shut no matter what promises are made to you can be just as important to your chances of beating the charges.

While Law Enforcement Officers Often Trick a Defendant Into Making a Statement, It can be Difficult to Prove that the Statement was not Voluntary.

Any statement made during a custodial interrogation is not admissible unless a suspect has been first been given his Miranda warnings.  Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436, 444 (1966). Before introducing a defendant's inculpatory statement made during a custodial interrogation, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was first advised of his Miranda rights, and that the statement was made “freely and voluntarily, and not under the influence of fear, intimidation, menaces, threats, inducement or promises.” State v. Rose, 05–770, p. 9 (La.App. 5 Cir. 2/27/06), 924 So.2d 1107, 1111. However, it usually takes little more than an officer’s testimony that he gave a Miranda warning before questioning a defendant. At trial it will be your word against the officer’s as to whether your statement was freely and voluntarily given.

Call a Good Criminal Defense Lawyer If You Are Arrested or Even Taken in for Questioning.

Law enforcement will take great effort to elicit damaging statements from suspects, including intimidating them into thinking that they must comply with requests for questioning. Officers also often will tell a suspect that he can go if just tells them what happened – with the suspect ultimately getting arrested. The simple way to avoid hurting your case when approached by police for questioning is to insist on your right to be represented by a Louisiana attorney. Whether you are in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Shreveport, or anywhere else in Louisiana, having a good criminal defense lawyer present at your questioning can help keep you from saying something that you will regret later.

If you’ve been arrested and have questions about your case you can call my office for a free consultation. Call Rusty Messer at (225) 384-6760 to discuss your case today.