I’m not guilty. I have nothing to hide. I’m going to talk to the police because I don’t want to look guilty.

I hear that all the time.  It drives me nuts.  I get why people are worried.  To the uninitiated, the logic makes sense.  Innocent people have nothing to hide, right. I mean, why wouldn’t Mother Teresa head on down to the station and clear up the confusion?

You know who looks most guilty? People who aren’t guilty, but whom the police say admit to crimes. In fact, they look so guilty that they’re almost always convicted.  The reality is that by the time the cops want you to come down to the station you already look guilty to somebody.  And, why are you worried about whether or not you look guilty to the cops, anyway?  They don’t determine your guilt.  A judge or jury do- and they can’t use your silence against you.

You already know I think that innocent people have more incentive to mind their own business and assert their constitutional rights.  You still think I’m nuts, though.  So, lets put all of that aside.  The cops want you to come on down to the station to “talk”.  And, well, you’ve got nothing to hide so why not?  You’ll head on down there, tell them that you’re not guilty, and be back to watch Nancy Grace before taking a nap and washing the cat.  Simple plan.

Everybody has a plan.  You’re going to say what you’ve got to say, and if they don’t like it you’ll show them.  Just like Fenster in Usual Suspects:

Unfortunately, you aren’t Fenster.  He’s been interrogated a million times before, so he knows what he’s doing.  The real-life police don’t act like that, anyway.  The real police?  They have a plan, too.  Their plan is called the Reid Technique of interrogation.  It’s more than a plan, really. It’s a system.  The Reid Technique has 9 simple steps to psychologically beat you down and make you tell the “truth.”  Or, in some cases, to make you tell the cops what they already have decided is the truth.

So, the cops want you or Mother Teresa, or Rowdy Roddy Piper or whoever to come into the station to “talk” about the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa.  When you get there, they “regret to inform you” that they’ve got a lot of evidence that you killed Hoffa. (Step 1: present real or fake evidence.).  Maybe they’re lying about that.  On the other hand, maybe they’re not.  Eyewitness mis-identifications happen all the time.  Somebody may have actually picked you out of a lineup.

To make it fun, lets pretend the cops actually have no evidence on you.  Is isn’t unusual.  As you’ve read here before, the Reid Techinque is founded on the idea that interrogations should happen when the cops think you’re guilty but don’t really have the evidence to prove it.

It’s ok, though.  The cops are giving you an out.  Hoffa was a violent man, they tell you.  He probably came at you first. You probably acted in self defense.  They tell you that they would have, too!  Is it possible that could have happened when you and Hoffa were drinking and you were so blacked-out drunk that you don’t remember it? (Step 2: Interrogator creates a story as to why/how suspect might have commit crime.)  Anything is possible, right?  You don’t remember everything that ever happened to you. It could have happened.

Hell no, that’s not possible.  You weren’t even born when Hoffa disappeared, right?  Every time you tell them that, though, they cut you off before you get a word out of your mouth.  Every time you get half way into it, they stop you and remind you that “anything is possible.”  (Step 3: never let the suspect deny it.)

Wait a minute.  You went down to the cop-shop to tell them that you’re not guilty, and they won’t even let those words out of your mouth? You can’t even tell them what you went there to tell them?  What kind of deal is this?

Why are you there, again?  Because your ego wouldn’t let you remain silent, that’s why.  How does your ego feel now that they’ve told you they have the evidence to prove it, they’ve explained a way in which it could have theoretically gone down, and they won’t let you deny anything.  How are you feeling about your decision now?

You don’t even need to get into the final 6 steps of Reid’s mental submission machinery.  You only need to know that you’re not going to be in control, and that things still aren’t going to go down like you think they are.  I’m not necessarily saying you’re going to admit to anything you didn’t do.  Although, I’m not saying you won’t, either.  Other people certainly have.  And, even when they didn’t, who knows how the police might interpret what you said (after all, they thought you were guilty before this thing even started).

I know what you’re thinking.  You think I’m nuts.  I mean, yes there’s a chance that the cops think you did something you didn’t do. Maybe there’s a very outside chance you were wrongly identified or somebody mistakenly said you did something.  But the chances are so slim that they’re not worth worrying about, right?

This isn’t the lottery.  This is your life. If there is ever any chance you might spend the rest of your life caged up like a hamster, and you had any control over whether or not that happened, why wouldn’t you use that control to make the best decision for you?  The wise men who wrote the constitution understood this.  They gave you the absolute right to control whether or not you talk.  So, are you going to make those wise men happy by using their “gift of silence” or are you going to disappoint Elbridge Gerry?

Elbridge didn’t care if it was Mother Teresa, O.J. Simpson, or anybody else.  Elbridge wasn’t going to sign that Constitution without the Bill of Rights.  Elbridge knew what was up.

It’s your life. You do what you want.  You take the chances you want, and you get to live with them.  Me?  I’m not talking.  Especially when I’m innocent.

Matt Haiduk is an uncooperative Criminal Defense Lawyer with offices in Kane County and McHenry County, Illinois.  Feel free to add him on Google+.