Heading To Jail? Learn Why Silence Is Golden


Ex-cop and convicted murder Drew Petterson is in the news for trying to take out a hit on the prosecutor that handled his case. As a former police officer, Petterson should have been aware of how often jailhouse confidants turn into jailhouse informants. If you want to avoid the same sort of problems, this is what you should know about what you should and shouldn't say while in jail, either awaiting your trial or after.

Always assume that everyone is looking for a deal.

Prior to your conviction, if you're stuck in jail for a while waiting for your trial, don't be under the illusion that anyone is sympathizing with you. If you discuss the details of your case and admit to anything, your cellmate could be called into court to testify about your conversation. If he or she contacts the proper authorities and offers, he or she may even be offered the opportunity to record your conversation. By snitching on you, a fellow inmate can secure everything from additional privileges inside the prison to a deal with prosecutors for their own early release.

If you're convicted of a crime, venting and saying the wrong thing can lead to additional charges very easily. Peterson's attorney claims that the plot to kill the prosecutor was essentially idle chatter and didn't amount to an actual plan, but the ex-cop could now be facing an additional 60 years in prison.

Whether you're looking a short stint in county lockup or a longer term in prison, one of the best ways to get through your sentence is to simply do your time as quietly as possible and work with your criminal defense attorney to try to secure an early release for good behavior. Under no circumstances should you discuss your crimes in any detail either before or after your conviction.

You can end up being the state's best witness if you aren't careful.

Don't end up becoming a witness against yourself, either. While many jails and prisons notify prisoners that they are subject to recording both while receiving visitors and on the phone, many people seem not to take the warnings that seriously. Or, perhaps they don't realize exactly how carefully those recordings are evaluated for their evidentiary value.

For example, a man accused of involuntary manslaughter in the deaths of a woman and her daughter ended up handing the prosecution evidence of his guilt and his lack of remorse while talking on the phone at the jail. The use of his recorded conversation netted him a sentence of more than 20 years in prison, twice what the prosecution requested.

If you're facing the prospect of some time in prison, do yourself and your defense attorney a favor by being very cautious about who you speak to and what you say.


27 May 2016

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