Presuppose that at the time of stating something to the police, no lawyer represents Suspect, and English law lets suspects exercise the qualified right to silence. Unlike in USA, in England,

Where a defendant fails to mention any fact when questioned under caution, that they later relies on in their defence in those proceedings, a court or a jury can draw an adverse inference when deciding upon the guilt of the defendant.

No space here to quote Reeds Solicitors LLP's whole article on Adverse Inferences and Remaining Silent!

Many of us know about the ‘right to remain silent’ when speaking with the authorities. Though in some circumstances, remaining silent can have a negative impact on your case. This is where your silence can lead the court to draw an ‘adverse inference’ (i.e. a negative conclusion or understanding of the person’s position).

1. To anti-proverb SCOTUS Justice Robert Jackson's proverb in Watts v. Indiana 338 U.S. 49 (1949), when would a lawyer worth his salt tell Suspect in certain terms to state something to the police?

2. For instance, to avoid adverse inferences?

Stating basic biographical facts, like your name + date of birth, to the police appears hurtless? By way of comparison,

Every prisoner of war, when questioned on the subject, is bound to give only his surname, first names and rank, date of birth, and army, regimental, personal or serial number, or failing this, equivalent information.

3. As Article 17 of the Geneva Convention require PoW's to state their names + date of birth, then how can stating these to police harm Suspect? If even names + date of birth ought be kept silent, then Article 17 of the Geneva Convention would not require their disclosure!

There is a logical contradiction between prisoners' being "bound to give only his" names + date of birth to an enemy, but not suspects to police. Even if suspect doesn't state them, the police can suss out these two basic biographical facts themselves.

Obviously, I am NOT referring to circumstances when English law requires suspects to speak to police, like

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    Opinion based. "When their lawyer tells them to after having consulted with their lawyer."
    – Trish
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 9:46
  • 1
    I agree this is opinion based. FYI being interviewed, with or without legal representation, is the suspect's opportunity to give their account to explain what / did not happen, correct any misunderstandings the police may have, offer details the police may not already be aware of, and if appropriate give their defence.
    – user35069
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 10:54

3 Answers 3


Only to say they will not be speaking to the cops without their lawyer. At this stage, any statements you make can only be used to hurt your case, so it's best to shut up and lawyer up.


When the individual makes the assessment that being silent will be more damaging than speaking

This depends on so many circumstances that it is impossible to state more than that.

  • Is it not even safe to say "After speaking to their lawyer"? As in, does it happen that the fact that the suspect did not talk to the police prior to their lawyer get brought up negatively in court?
    – User65535
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 12:50
  • @User65535 maybe. Imagine if the police are talking with you because you were an accomplice in a child abduction case. If the child turns up dead because you didn’t say anything you are now a murderer.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 19:49
  • @User65535 one of the prosecutor who tried to use the fact that a defendant remained silent against him in the Derek chauvin circus of a trial is facing multiple complaints for doing that and a couple of other dodgy things.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 20:31
  • @NeilMeyer that case happened in America. The law is different in the UK. Inferences are allowed to be drawn when the defendant remains silent in the UK.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 20:34


Your chance at a beating the case improves so drastically it is basically never in your interest to talk to police. In some places you are required to give an alibi if you have one, but that can be provided by a written statement.

Also, a little known fact that the Miranda conveniently chooses to omit, but anything you say in an interrogation can be used against you, but nothing can be used in your defense.

The only thing you should say is. I unambiguously invoke my right to a council and remind police that to continue the interrogation after the right to council has been invoked would be a break of my Miranda rights.

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    This is an American perspective and very bad advice for people being interviewed by police in other countries.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 20:35
  • @DaleM This site welcomes perspective from around the world. You as a mod should know that. We have several question on this SE that ask a question from a specific jurisdiction and have answer from others. This should not be news to you.
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 20:41
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    I do know it. I also know that the policy also requires answerers to state the jurisdiction they are referring to when it isn’t the one the OP asked about. This answer doesn’t do that.
    – Dale M
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 20:43