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March 8, 2011 - An Invitation You Can Decline


I recently received a copy of a letter that was sent out by a State agency responsible for investigating a claim of fraud.  The letter politely notified the recipient of the good news that his case had been officially "approved."

The letter went on to explain that the investigator had scheduled an appointment for the recipient to "discuss" the matter, to explain the court process, and answer any questions the recipient might have.  The letter further explained that the investigator would be happy to accommodate the recipient by visiting with him at his workplace, rather than requiring him to come to the investigator's office.

The letter was very professional, and polite.  What was missing from the letter was what you always hear on television when someone gets arrested.  "You have the right to remain silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. . . ."  

You see, the recipient of this letter was not the victim of fraud.  The recipient was the suspect.  The case had been "approved . . . for prosecution."  The invitation to come in and discuss the case was really a request to have the suspect come in and confess.

It has been said that confession is good for the soul.  But before you make any statements to a police officer or other official investigator, you should talk to an attorney first to be sure that you understand your rights, the consequences of anything you might say, and other possible methods of dealing with the situation.

Now, legally the letter did not need to inform the recipient of his right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment.  This was not a "custodial interrogation" requiring the Miranda warnings.  But a good defense attorney will tell you that if police or other investigators "invite" you to come meet with them, you are free to decline the invitation.



This blog is the work of Utah criminal defense attorney Stephen W. Howard.  It is not intended to be legal advice, and the information contained herein may not be applicable to your particular factual or legal situation.  If you have been accused of criminal conduct, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to discuss the best way to handle your case.



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