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You Have the Right to Remain Innocent By James Duane

The author, Professor James Duane is a descendant of Judge James Duane of New York (first judge of the federal judiciary, 1789) and has practiced civil litigation and criminal defense for over 30 years now. He is a professor at the Regent Law School in Virginia. The book, You have the right to remain innocent is one of his best sellers published in 2016.

As suggested by its name, the book talks about the innocent people and also deals with the application of the Fifth Amendment Right in America, which is also known as the right to remain silence. The book has been divided in three parts, namely, don't talk to the police; don't plead the fifth; and plead the sixth.
  1. The first part talks about how complex, lengthy and broad are American laws. According to Duane, every citizen commits an average of three felonies a day and are not even aware that they are breaking the law.

    For example, a few years ago, young sailors freed a 500- pound sea turtle who was entangled in a buoy line wrapped around its head and fins but were later told by an agent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that what they did was illegal and violation of Endangered Species Act. It also tells us to not to talk to the police at all because anything you say can be used against you in the court.

    Even if you think that you are innocent and that you have got nothing to hide, you really should be careful with the police. The police is allowed by law to lie to you about anything to everything. They can lie about if you are a suspect, about the case they are investigating or if they are investigating a case related to you at all.

    They can lie about providing you with help if you agree to talk to them or trick you into believing that it is in your best interest if you co-operate with them but that may actually mean getting you behind the bars for actually speaking to them and using your statements against you. In one of the cases quoted by James Duane in the book, it is seen that the police were looking for a man for the offence of rape and he went down to the police because he had nothing to hide.

    However, when the police asked him about his whereabouts and alibis at the time of the alleged crime, he mixed them up by mistake and ended up spending a decade in the prison before he was proved innocent by the results of a DNA test. the police will try to trick you by putting you under custody for several hours until you tell them what they wanted to hear all along.

    There are many other cases where the innocent has been prosecuted by using their statement against them in the court, when all they wanted was to get out of the custody as soon as possible and therefore tell them what they wanted to hear. The simple solution to get out of this suffering is to refuse to talk to the police by invoking the right to remain silent.
  2. The second part, Don't plead the fifth, somehow contradicts the first part because it asks us not to invoke the same right. Earlier, the supreme court stated that the fifth amendment, while sometimes a shelter to the guilty, is often a protection to the innocent. Duane backs up this by quoting several instances and cases.

    In one of the cases (early 2008), where an FBI agent asked Gillman Long if she could question him, told him he was not under arrest and that he could back out or stop at any point he wants, Long was imprisoned. During the questioning, he said, I don't want to incriminate myself', which the prosecution lawyer used against him by saying that it implies that if he speaks anymore of the subject, it might put him under danger. This is completely false. Even though there was no proof of any criminal account or activity on behalf of Long, he was sent to prison for life without parole. It is therefore seen that even if you invoke your right to remain silent at any point during the questioning, it can be used against you in the court.
  3. The third part, plead the sixth very briefly talks about invoking the sixth amendment law instead of fifth. The sixth one says that you have the right to have a lawyer. He put special emphasis on the fact that even if you do not want to be rude to the police, do not be too polite and say I think I need a lawyer or Do you think I need a lawyer?. They may ignore these requests and continue with questioning you. Instead, just say I want a lawyer until they realize that they are talking to someone who knows how the law system works in America.

    The book is completely on how flawed the American legal system is and how policemen trick the citizen into saying things the latter wouldn't have spoken otherwise. This creates an negative image of the police, law makers and the judiciary. All the policemen want to do is to catch the right criminal and as we all know; they don't give in easily. It is their job to catch the criminal, however, this book suggests that the American legal system focuses on closing cases more than on imparting justice.

On the bright side, the book is very precisely and skillfully written. It is an eye-opening book for Americans and for people belonging to other parts of the world. This book highlights how innocent people have lost several years of their lives to imprisonment because they decided to talk to the police. It is a knowledgeable book for law students and is a must read for all. It also makes a logically strong argument for you to exercise your rights. This book is well-illustrated and beautifully explained by the author. It gives valuable insights and is an easy read.

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