Houman Fakhimi

State v. Pearson is Good Example why 'Right to Silence' is Smart in Santa Ana Juvenile Cases

A recent case out of Iowa shows why all suspects, regardless of the charges they may face, should not make statements to police or anyone else after they are arrested.

In State v. Pearson, a 17-year-old was arrested and charged with beating an elderly man. Smartly, he invoked his right to remain silent when confronted by police. Stupidly, he admitted to the crime to his social worker the next day.

Because he made the statements without his attorney and there was no attorney-client privilege in place with his social worker, the statements were used against him at trial. His jury convicted the teen of first-degree robbery, willful injury and being armed with intent.

Juvenile crimes in Santa Ana are difficult because teens who get arrested often are so terrified, they don't consider the implications of speaking with police or anyone else for that matter.

They must rely on a Santa Ana criminal defense lawyer to give them sound advice the moment they are arrested. You should never take any action, including talking with police, until after consulting with an attorney.

Pearson shows us that remaining silent is always the smart move. Consider a number of things. If police have called in a person for questioning who they believe is a suspect, the person is automatically put on the defensive. If they have no proof to hold a person and they aren't considered under arrest, they don't have to speak with police at all.

But if a person does choose to speak with law enforcement officers, their statement is recorded, sometimes video recorded, and officers are taking notes the entire time. Usually, there are two officers so they can feed off each others' questions. This pins suspects in the corner as they attempt to talk their way out of the charges.

But this isn't the same as trying to convince your parents you weren't at that party. There are serious implications on the line and your parents aren't as well trained as the police are in dealing with interrogations. They come across thousands of suspects, who all are trying to convince them they weren't involved.

Remaining silent has the distinct advantage of the element of surprise. If a suspect refuses to talk and police make an arrest anyway, the prosecution has no idea what they might say if they decide to testify at trial. If they make a statement and then testify, prosecutors will use the prior statement, and any inconsistencies in it compared to the testimony, against the defendant.

If there are major changes from what the person said at the time of arrest versus trial, the jury may think the trial testimony is a lie. That hit to credibility can sink a defendant. But if there is no prior statement, the prosecution can't use a non-existent prior statement to its advantage.