Do Not Talk To The Police, Celebrity Edition

Way back in May of 2008 I linked a very interesting video that was done by an attorney, at this post. Unfortunately the link is now dead.

In essence, the attorney was pleading with people to protect their fifth amendment rights by NOT speaking with the police after an incident unless you have your attorney present, ever. In the video there was a police officer who also said that you should never speak with the cops without an attorney present even if you are IN THE RIGHT.

The attorney said that even if you are in the right, things you tell the police can get twisted and turned around (intentionally, or not), and could incriminate you.

I was thinking of this as the Tiger Woods situation unfolded. I will never know what really happened outside of Mr. Woods’s house in those early morning hours last week. But as I was reading coverage on it I kept seeing that the police kept wanting to come to his house to ask him questions and they were denied. Florida law only states that in this type of investigation that Woods give his license, registration and proof in insurance and apparently that is all that he gave. Finally, Mr. Woods hired an attorney.

It is possible that Mr. Woods hired an attorney right after the incident and got good advice not to speak to the cops, but this episode is a great example of someone who clearly knew his rights and decided to exercise them. Any interview with the police would have hurt Mr. Woods, even though he might have done nothing wrong and just merely had an accident.

Update: Commenter Andrew has a link to the video here.

15 thoughts on “Do Not Talk To The Police, Celebrity Edition”

  1. A very important and good post. Thank you.

    Especially relevant considering the apparent wide support for ‘do what you have to’ tactics of James Crowley among officers, as shown recently.

    ‘Contempt of cop’ gets good men ticketed, held, and arrested, all through the United States. Tiger is very smart to avoid getting himself into such a situation.

  2. My wife and I prepared an index card, kept with our automobile insurance card and vehicle registration, that reads,

    “Officer, Please do not take this personally — I hold the men and women in Law Enforcement in the highest regard. I respectfully decline to answer any questions or discuss this incident further until I have consulted my attorney. I’m sure you can respect the fact that I am only exercising my rights.”

    Several of our friends have requested copies and now carry similar cards in their vehicles.

  3. A wealthy celebrity like Woods, faces problems in ordinary incidents that an ordinary individual would not. Just a gravity bends space and time, there is a great pressure created by wealth and fame that distorts every human interaction.

    Ordinary people don’t have the same worries as the rich and famous. If they get in an accident, an ordinary person doesn’t have to worry that a cop, firefighter, EMT, nurse etc will post pictures or videos of their bloody face on the internet. An ordinary person doesn’t have to worry that every little thing they do or say will provoke a lawsuit. Indeed, I would wager that at any given time Woods is fighting several lawsuits most of the without merit. Some might have even been filed just in the hope that the plaintiff could meet Woods in deposition or trial.

    Were I someone in Woods position, I’d have my lawyer sleep at the foot of my bed and follow me around like a dog.

  4. Shannon Love – I think the point you are making actually places Woods in a better position in this incident than most non famous people, which is the point of my post. Woods, I would imagine, has several attorneys on his staff full time, ready to dispense advice. Most of us normal joe’s do not and I think it wise that if involved in an incident that we need to retain someone who can give us good advice rather than going straight to the cops and possibly saying someething that may be twisted (intentionally or not) around to hurt us later.

  5. Here is my post linking to those videos. Everyone should watch them.

    Never Talk to the Police

    Talking is dangerous because there are so many laws that you break every day. You are usually protected by invisibility. The police need to see “probable cause” to examine you further. You are clearly visible when they are asking questions, so watch out.

  6. It would be a good idea if jury members were given a similar card that instructed them to disregard any alleged statement made by the accused that he was not prepared to swear to in court.
    It is not that long ago that “la question” involved the use of torture here in France and elsewhere. We have replaced that system by one which tries to trick people into making unconsidered statements or even giving a distorted impression of what was said.
    I am no bleeding heart liberal and would put criminals in jail for far longer than most people would wish for, but there is no point in punishing the innocent.

  7. “even though he might have done nothing wrong”

    As near as I can tell, he has self-defense available to him, he was fleeing from his wife who was attacking him with a golf club.

    “Were I someone in Woods position, I’d have my lawyer sleep at the foot of my bed and follow me around like a dog.”

    Trust me. Dogs are much more easily housebroken.

  8. Here’s hoping your attorney is not the one who advised Martha Stewart to speak to the feds without him present. She had no obligation to do so, as far as I know, and look where it got her. Maybe two attorneys should be consulted and a third if they disagree.

  9. Tiger Woods’ serious car accident was so funny (guess wifey caught up with his lies). It was reported that Woods went for a drive after having a fight with wife Elin Nordegren over an alleged affair the golfer had with Rachel Uchitel prior to the accident. But what I’d really want to know, who exactly is Rachel Uchitel and is she Tiger Woods’ mistress??

  10. Lidya – I’ve no idea what happened in Florida but I do know that if you start off a post saying “guess wifey caught up with his lies” you’ve already jumped past whether there was a fight, who was at fault, and is Tiger Woods unfaithful and have jumped straight to the salacious which hottie is Tiger unfaithful with issue. Don’t you think that it’s a bit premature, maybe even cruel?

    This is a legal thread and unlikely to yield any telephoto shots of “what really happened”. So why try to hijack the thread? With this little information available, speculation could take you anywhere. And I guess that’s the point of privacy. You don’t really know what’s going on behind those closed doors and maybe that’s for the best.

  11. Lidya, I will leave your comment only because TMLutas said basically what I was thinking. This thread was not about Tiger Woods personal life, rather your rights when the police want to have a little talk. The Woods situation is a perfect example of someone who was advised of his rights (or knew them) and used them like so many of us should.

    I couldn’t care less about Tiger’s personal life. There are a zillion websites that you can find besides this one if you want to waste your time on the dirt and nonsense that is sure to come of the situation.

  12. Michael Kennedy,

    Martha Stewart’s attorney was actually present. His mistake was advising her to speak to the feds without insisting on immunity for doing so. When she was charged with making false statements to the feds her attorney testified to what she said, and so did the FBI agents. The jury evidently believed the FBI.

    The lesson though was one well learned by the white collar defense bar: don’t ever talk to the feds unless you’re granted immunity from prosecution for doing so. It’s just too easy to make out a false statements charge, because it comes down to a credibility contest. By the time of trial all that anyone remembers is what the memo they wrote up after the interview anyway, which generally benefits the prosecutions.

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