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If you’re innocent, why not talk to the police?

You’re minding your own business, when all of a sudden, a South Dakota police officer approaches you. They claim that you match the description of someone who has recently committed a criminal offense in the area.

Of course, you know this is untrue, and you can prove it. Your first instinct may be to plead with the officer and protest your innocence. Why might this not be such a good idea?

What if you make a mistake?

You may have an alibi that proves you could not have committed the crime. You say that you were in a certain store at the time the alleged offense took place. Officers note this down and tell you that they will follow up on their inquiries. An hour or so after you’ve made the statement, you realize that you made an honest mistake. The alibi you gave is a day out. When officers later find this out, they may be able to build a narrative that you have been lying to them, which will not work in your favor.

Your persuasive skills will not be good enough

If you’ve been identified as a suspect, then officers are likely to build their investigations around this. The process of criminal investigations should be to establish the truth, but this isn’t always how human nature works. Like anyone else, law enforcement is susceptible to inherent cognitive biases. They know someone committed the offense, they believe it was you, and they want justice for the victims. It is highly unlikely that you are going to talk yourself out of being processed.

In the U.S. you are protected by the Fifth Amendment. This means that you are not obliged to say anything that may be self-incriminating. This is something that is worth careful consideration. Eventually, you will have a chance to build your defense and it is best to do this with a knowledgeable support network behind you.