Interviewer: What are the top misconceptions people have that make them feel like they’re doomed and their life’s over that’s really not true?
Andrew Jezic: Because they’re good people and good people tend to have good consciences and may tend to self-blame to a greater extent than somebody who has more of a criminal protraction. If somebody has a good conscience, who has high standards for themselves and has never been in trouble before and is not a lawyer; that is a perfect storm of paranoia. It’s going to blow somebody away in the first several days after they get out of jail or while they’re in jail. You need a lawyer to explain these things repeatedly in colorful and understandable and memorable language with credibility so that the client and their family together can begin to move from paranoia to just reasonable predictions about their case.
Retaining a Competent and Successful Defense Attorney Can be a Calming Factor for a Client
That is one of the most common roles of a criminal defense attorney. When the client sees us working hard, doing well in court at motions hearings, reading articles about us, reading about the awards that we’ve got and the distinctions that we’ve got and the articles on the wall, in the lobby or at our website, that also calms them down tremendously because success leaves clues and when they see our record of success, it calms them down.
Common Client Mistakes Detrimental to a Favorable Outcome in a Criminal Case
Interviewer: What kind of mistakes do you see people make once they’ve been arrested that can make their case worse than it otherwise would have been?
Andrew Jezic: Before they’re arrested or during the arrest process, the single worst thing that anybody can do is talk to the police. There are no exceptions. It’s nice and in law, everything’s fuzzy and murky and not black and white but there’s one black and white rule that everybody can follow and it’s very simple and that is, never ever talk to the police when you are not a pure victim of crime. It’s also important for people to understand why because if they understand why, they’ll be less likely to speak to the police. What is not contained in the Miranda Rights is an explanation that the state cannot use your silence against you in courts; that is not part of the Miranda Rights.
People Wrongly Assume That Their Silence Can be Used Against Them in Court
People that are not lawyers assume that their silence will be brought to the attention of the jury and even without the police officer’s prompting, that’s what motivates most people to make the disastrous decision to speak to the police. They think, “I need to start giving an exculpatory story right now because if I don’t, the jury is going to hate me for remaining silent”. The suspect thinks that the jury is going to think that only guilty people remain silent but if people around the country realize that silence, especially in Maryland, can never be used against you when you’re speaking to a police officer, then much less people would make the catastrophic decision to speak to the police.
Suspects Need to Know that an Exculpatory Statement Cannot be Proactively Used by the Defense Unless a Prosecutor Uses it first
If people knew that what you say to the police, which might be exculpatory, cannot be used by your defense attorney before the jury, then people would not think there’s a benefit to speak. What motivates suspects to speak to the police is they think, “I’m going to get this exculpatory story out there so that my lawyer can put forward that exculpatory story to the jury and the jury can hear my statement”. Suspects don’t know that that cannot be used proactively by a defense attorney unless the prosecutor uses it first. If they understood those two things, the suspects would be much less likely to speak to the police.
People Often Mistakenly Try to Talk their Way out of an Arrest
Interviewer: Do you have people that think they can talk their way out of an arrest? Is that a common scenario?
Andrew Jezic: The third reason is they think that police will help them in some way if they are nice and cooperative and talkative. There is absolutely almost never any validity to that belief. Number four is just what you said, people who don’t have a lot of experience just panic and they have very poor judgment in a custodial interrogation. They think they can talk themselves out of any situation because they’ve been doing that all their life. They’ve been spinning a good story and that has served them in the past in their criminal behavior or in their everyday life. They’re wrong to think that they can outsmart the police.