There is a popular misconception that since the police are enforcers of the law, that they are obligated to inform you of the law and answer any questions truthfully pertaining to it. This is false. Police officers are under no obligation to explain the law to potential suspects, and as a matter of fact, it has been legally ruled that it is each private citizen’s individual responsibility and duty to educate him or herself on the law. As a result, law enforcement possesses a constellation of techniques that they can use to elicit information from suspects that can potentially secure a conviction. These include the threat of adverse consequences if one chooses to wait to speak to a lawyer.
Due to the codification of criminal law in the United States across thousands of sections, and the virtually infinite set of factual circumstances that can be relevant to a prosecutor, it is advised to withhold from speaking to the police without legal counsel. It is in every individual’s interest, including the innocent, to consult with an attorney before engaging in a dialogue with the police. Often times, if the police are still talking to a suspect, it is because they do not have enough information to arrest him or her. The right to remain silent is a constitutional amendment, which does not carry any connotation of guilt.