Why You Should Never Speak to the Police After an Arrest in Houston


Texas criminal defense attorneyThe Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects Americans from being forced to incriminate themselves by the government. This right is so important that it has been incorporated into the well-known Miranda Warnings, which must be read to a suspect before he or she may be questioned by law enforcement officers.

Despite receiving these warnings, many suspects do not fully understand their implications. Virtually any statement made to a police officer can be used as incriminating evidence against the suspect. For this reason, it is important to say as little as possible before, during, and after an arrest. A Houston criminal defense attorney can help defendants protect their important constitutional rights throughout the criminal case process.

Promises, Promises

One of the most common problems suspects face upon being arrested is the promises made by law enforcement officers. A suspect will often be told that “things will go easier” if he or she cooperates. The officer may offer to tell the prosecutor that the suspect cooperated and imply that there will be leniency as a result. Some officers may even blatantly promise a reduced sentence, probation, or a diversion program in order to spare the suspect from jail time.

The fact is that only a prosecutor can decide whether to offer a plea deal. Even then, a plea offer must be accepted by a court in order to be enforceable. No officer has the authority to execute an enforceable plea deal. While an officer can indeed speak to a prosecutor about the case, his or her intervention cannot determine the outcome of a case.

This issue was examined in 2004 by the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas (See Martinez v. State, 127 SW 3d 792). Mr. Martinez was arrested after police executed a search warrant on his father’s upholstery shop and found drugs on the premises. The police questioned Martinez and told him that his father and brother would not be charged with crimes so long as he admitted that the drugs were his. Mr. Martinez wrote a confession to this effect.

Later, he asked the trial court to suppress his confession, claiming that the promises about not charging his relatives rendered the confession involuntary. The trial court found that the confession was voluntary. On appeal, the Court of Criminal Appeals also found that the confession was voluntary and therefore admissible against Mr. Martinez. It determined that police officers had never made a “positive promise” to the defendant. Presumably, other cases in which positive promises were made would be more likely to result in a confession being suppressed.

This case is just one of many examples of how confusing an interrogation can be for a suspect. The suspect is not familiar with the process, does not know what is happening and faces immense pressure from the officers who are questioning him or her. These factors can often work together to overcome a suspect’s will.

Some suspects may not even realize that the information they provide is, in fact, incriminating. This is why it is so important to invoke one’s right to silence after an arrest. Make a clear and unambiguous statement to the officers that you will not speak to them without the presence of a Houston criminal defense attorney.

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