It Is Advisable Not To Answer Any Question By The Police
Interviewer: If someone is actually contacted by a police officer or detective, should they answer any questions?
Paul Cramm: Absolutely, positively, do not answer any questions at all. Imagine law enforcement showing up with a search warrant to seize all of the computers in the house. Imagine a defendant who said absolutely nothing, answers no questions, and pursuant to the warrant, turns over the laptop. No matter what they find on that laptop computer, there is still a very important issue – an important question – for the prosecution to be able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt.
Are the images on the computer? How did they get there? Who accessed the website from this IP address? Who downloaded these images? Maybe I have a client who has a job or he works nights, and he clocks in every night at nine, and works until seven in the morning. Maybe he shares the residence with a roommate. If all of these images are downloaded between the hours of 11pm and two in the morning, then my client can verify that he’s at work.
The mere presence of the images on the hard drive really doesn’t prove the prosecution’s case. Now contrast that with the agents coming to get the computer and a client who hangs his head and says, “I know why you’re here. I know I shouldn’t have gone to that website.” In that case, any gaps that need to be filled in, the client’s already filled in for them. I think it’s very important not to answer any questions at all, while agents are there, executing the search warrant.
There may be dispositive defense issues available that can only be undone by the voluntary statements or admissions of culpability by the defendant, so absolutely do not answer any questions of the agents when they’re there, executing the search warrant and collecting the equipment.
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