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Should I remain silent after an auto accident?

Fort Myers, FL |

Having an interest in law and legal issues, I have been doing research into the Fifth Amendment regarding one's right to remain silent and not incriminate himself. I have noticed that most attorneys (with few exceptions) recommend not giving any statement to a police officer under any circumstances. My research has confirmed this - talking to the police can rarely (if ever) help you.

My question is this: if I am in an auto accident, should I refuse to speak to police without legal counsel present? Regardless of who is at fault, can refusing to speak with police following an auto accident potentially hurt me in a future civil trial? If my silence can not be used against me, I assume it is in my best interest to remain silent.

Thank you in advance.

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Attorney answers 2

Posted

I think you answered your own question.

READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I am providing educational instruction only--not legal advice. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

Posted

In Florida the drivers of vehicles are required to talk to the investigating police officer after the crash. The constitutional protection is not involved, because the statements that are required by the statute cannot be used civilly or criminally. In Florida we call this "the accident report privilege."

The refusal to speak to the police officer in this situation is itself a crime. You should not do that.

If the officer suspects that a crime is involved, such as driving under the influence, or reckless driving, the officer is supposed to notify you that a criminal investigation has begun. If the officer does not notify you of that, the accident privilege still applies and your answers cannot be used against you. However, if the officer does notify you that a criminal investigation has begun, you should consider your right to remain silent.

Usually, that right should be exercised. However, there are certainly situations in which speaking candidly to the officer might avoid an arrest. This is a matter of judgment.

This is a summary based on incomplete facts. You should not rely on it as legal advise.

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