May 27, 2008 12:56PM

Don’t Talk to the Police?

Professor James Duane has posted a terrific lecture about the Fifth Amendment’s safeguard concerning self‐​incrimination and the risk of “waiving” that right by speaking to the police.

If you want to divulge your Social Security number and other personal information to a stranger who telephones your home, that’s your choice. You can choose to ignore common sense and risk identity theft. Dealing with the police raises similar risks, as Prof. Duane shows. It’s one thing for you to initiate the encounter, such as by calling the police about your stolen car. But when the police initiate the encounter, it’s a minefield. Watch out. 

The Supreme Court should make it as plain as possible that people have the right to remain silent. Unfortunately, the Court is creating a situation where only lawyers will know when they must talk and when they can remain silent. 

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