MAKING A MURDERER: COULD IT HAPPEN TO YOU?
Feb. 8, 2016
The popular Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer details the saga of Steven Avery, a Wisconsin man who was wrongfully convicted of rape in the 1980s. In the 2000s, he was exonerated and released from prison after 18 years thanks to new DNA evidence, and then convicted of murder only a few years after his release.
While the errors and events shown in Making a Murderer are extreme, they are indicative of the serious problems that people accused of a crime must be aware of: from police that are more interested in convictions than justice to public defenders who may not truly have their client’s best interest at heart.
Never Talk To Police Without A Lawyer Present
In Making a Murderer, Brendan Dassey, Steven Avery’s nephew, confesses to assisting with the murder. The question is raised as to whether the confession was false. Did the police pressure the young man into confessing to a crime he didn’t commit?
Most people believe they would never falsely confess to a crime. However, the tactics used by police in Making a Murderer are not unique. The police will act like your friends. They will say they are trying to help you. They will keep you in a room for hours, asking you the same questions over and over, trying to corner you.
While you may not admit to committing the crime, you may say something that can be used against you. After hours of saying the same things, it can be very easy to misstate something, or to get the facts mixed up, or to simply make a mistake. Anything you say will be on the record. You cannot go back and undo it. Brendan Dassey is still behind bars, despite saying many times that he was truly not involved in the murder. The confession stands.
This is not an isolated incident and it is not limited to murder cases. In fraud and white collar crime cases, which are heavy on details and documentation, police may use the same approach to get the accused to say something that can be used to get a conviction. These tactics are used in drug cases, assault cases and more.
Regardless of what you are accused of, the only way to protect yourself in this situation is to have an attorney on your side, one you can trust. An experienced attorney will not let you be badgered. An experienced attorney will not let police trample on your rights, nor let you make any statement that has not been carefully considered. Even if you have not been charged and are just brought in for questioning, even if the police say you are not a suspect, you should have an attorney on your side.