A Fort Wayne police officer was charged in the breaking and entering of a person’s house and the theft of a chainsaw and gas cans from the property. The internal affairs of the police department requested to speak to the police officer and the officer “pled the 5th.” The accused officer then invoked what are known as “Garrity Rights,” which basically said the State of Indiana couldn’t use anything the accused officer said against him criminally, and the Statement was to only be used for Police Department purposes. Once this agreement was reached, the accused officer gave a statement. The State of Indiana then tried to use this statement, and evidence obtained as a result of this statement, against the officer. The Indiana Court of Appeals determined much of the evidence derived from the statement would not come into trial. Here is a link to the Indiana Court of Appeals case.
The moral of this story is: Police officers are trained to respond to questions by another police officer with “I plead the 5th”. You should also respond to questions by police officers with “I plead the 5th.”
Attorney Marc Lopez is a huge fan of the 5th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The 5th Amendment protects people from being forced to be a witness against themselves. Or more simply, it is a right against self-incrimination. This may not seem like such an important concept, but this country has not always had a right against self-incrimination. A perfect example of this was the Salem Witch trials in the late 1600s. In the Salem Witch trials, suspected witches were asked incriminating questions and had to answer these questions under threat of torture or actual torture. And basically the only answer that was acceptable was “I admit to being a witch.” Other answers led to additional torture and even death. The 5th Amendment avoids this because today everyone in the U.S. enjoys the freedom against self-incrimination. And statements made to law enforcement are only admissible at trial if the statement given is voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently. So statements made under torture don’t get to come in.
One of the common responses to my legal advice to always “plead the 5th” when talking with police officers is, “I’m innocent so I can talk with the police with no problems.” The U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that the 5th Amendment protects everyone, even innocent people, from the need to answer questions if the truth might be used to help create the misleading impression that the innocent person was somehow involved in a crime that they did not commit. Don’t put yourself in the position of having to defend yourself against a crime you didn’t commit simply because you gave a statement to the police.
If you are accused of a crime, or even if a detective is asking to speak to you, contact Attorney Marc Lopez today. His number is (317) 632-3642. Attorney Marc Lopez represents individuals in the Central Indiana area. Remember to always “plead the 5th.”