Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent

Rate this book

An urgent, compact manifesto that will teach you how to protect your rights, your freedom, and your future when talking to police.

Law professor James J. Duane became a viral sensation thanks to a 2008 lecture outlining the reasons why you should never agree to answer questions from the police—especially if you are innocent and wish to stay out of trouble with the law. In this timely, relevant, and pragmatic new book, he expands on that presentation, offering a vigorous defense of every citizen’s constitutionally protected right to avoid self-incrimination. Getting a lawyer is not only the best policy, Professor Duane argues, it’s also the advice law-enforcement professionals give their own kids.

Using actual case histories of innocent men and women exonerated after decades in prison because of information they voluntarily gave to police, Professor Duane demonstrates the critical importance of a constitutional right not well or widely understood by the average American. Reflecting the most recent attitudes of the Supreme Court, Professor Duane argues that it is now even easier for police to use your own words against you. This lively and informative guide explains what everyone needs to know to protect themselves and those they love.

154 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 20, 2016

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

James Duane

2 books18 followers

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
1,316 (48%)
4 stars
843 (31%)
3 stars
448 (16%)
2 stars
75 (2%)
1 star
31 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 400 reviews
Profile Image for Petra X has her eye on the prize.
2,385 reviews33.9k followers
July 11, 2018
The advice in this book can be summed up quite succinctly:
1. Never talk to the police except you must answer these two questions if you are stopped and asked them:
"Who are you?" and "What are you doing right here, right now?"

2. Do not suggest to the police that you would like a lawyer, might need a lawyer, could you please have a lawyer, instead be absolutely direct and say, I want a lawyer. Only those four words which cannot be misinterpreted by the police, attorneys, judges or juries will stop the policing questioning you and get you a lawyer. Never plead the Fifth Amendment which might be used as an indication of your guilt. Instead invoke the Sixth Amendment, your right to a lawyer.

3. In the US, the police are allowed even encouraged to tell as many lies and be as deceiving as they want as part of their investigation. The person questioned must be totally honest or risk being prosecuted for the federal offence, the felony, of lying to the government. " That is up to five years in prison if a jury decides you knew you were making an inaccurate statement.

4. Read the book. Or leave the US. Or move to a small town where the only law enforcement officer limits themselves to traffic offences and likes to knock off for the day at 5 p.m.

There are many, many people in the US who are convicted of crimes they didn't commit, some are serving long prison sentences. This book will help you avoid the fate of being damned by your own words, of having your wanting to help the police fully because you are innocent, turned against you.
__________________

Note on reading the book.
Profile Image for Negin.
591 reviews151 followers
November 13, 2016
Many have seen the You Tube video by the same author, telling you to never trust anyone in the criminal justice system. I saw it a few years ago and thought it was interesting. To me, you don’t necessarily need to read this book. The You Tube video and the quotes that I am sharing should be sufficient. It was a relatively short and quick read. Mind you, I had to skim through many of the horror stories with all the injustice that some have encountered. I cannot stand that sort of pain. Some of the tips:
Have a lawyer present whenever you talk to the police.
Never volunteer information or access to your property.

Here is more:
“If a police officer encounters you in one of those moments, he or she has every right to ask you two simple questions. Memorize these two questions so you will not be tempted to answer any others: Who are you? What are you doing right here, right now? If you are ever approached by a police officer with those two questions, and your God-given common sense tells you that the officer is being reasonable in asking for an explanation, don’t be a jerk.”

“Those are the only two things you should tell the police officer in that context, and they are both in the present tense. (You might as well cooperate with such a request, by the way, because the Fifth Amendment does not normally give you the right to refuse to tell the police your name anyway. That is it. But if the police officer tries to strike up a conversation with you about the past, and where you were thirty minutes earlier, and who you were with, and where you had dinner, and with whom—you will not answer those questions. You will not be rude, but you will always firmly decline, with all due respect, to answer those questions.”

“If you are asked any question by a police officer or a government agent and you realize that it is not in your best interest to answer, you should not mention the Fifth Amendment privilege or tell the police that you wish to exercise your right to avoid incriminating yourself. In this day and age, there is too great a danger that the police and the prosecutor might later persuade the judge to use that statement against you as evidence of your guilt. And if they do, to make matters much worse, you have no guarantee that the FBI agent in your case will not slightly misremember your exact words.”

“How do you request a lawyer? There is no need to be rude, naturally. And most people instinctively recognize that fact. The police officer does not deserve your disrespect, because he or she is only doing his or her job in a criminal justice system that is terribly out of control. Unfortunately, far too many individuals in the real world go in the opposite direction, and for some reason think that they need to be overly polite to the police. They seem to instinctively fear that they might come across sounding a little rude or disrespectful if they make their request sound too confident or unequivocal.”

“When you ask for a lawyer, do not worry about sounding polite, because that will make you sound unduly tentative or equivocal. Never ask the police officers what their opinion might be. In fact, do not ask any questions when you insist on the presence of a lawyer. Do not even use the words I think or might or maybe. You need to say, with no adverbs, in only four words, ‘I want a lawyer.’ And then you need to say it again, and again, until the police finally give up and realize they are dealing with someone who knows how our legal system really works.”
Profile Image for Ed .
479 reviews31 followers
February 16, 2017
Like a lot of people who watched James Duane's video on what to do when questioned by the police I was as taken with his extremely articulate almost glib style as I was his message which was very simple--don't talk to the police, you cannot help yourself and and may cause yourself harm. He expands that slightly in this book--if you have something that is exculpatory regarding the offense about which you are being questioned, for example you were out of the country and have the ticket receipts and stamped passport to prove it, then offer that but nothing else if the questions are about a crime that happened in the past. Asked about the present, you should cooperate. Identify yourself (it is a violation not to do so when asked by a police officer) and answer their questions asked in the present tense: why are you at this place at this time, for example.

While reading this book I could almost hear his distinctive cadence and see his practiced movements. It works a lot better as a presentation than as a book. Duane is an entertaining speaker who knows how to hold audience but with nothing more than words on the page he isn't as enthralling. The advice he gives, of course is excellent, actually vital to anyone who might be in the early stages of an encounter with the criminal justice system. But he gives it over and over, using examples drawn from his experience as a lawyer or from court records and news accounts. He does make clear that the police are allowed to lie to someone in custody to get them to answer questions so you simply shouldn't believe anything they say.

Duane was summa cum laude, Harvard undergrad, cum laude Harvard Law, clerked for two federal judges (district and circuit), co-authored a standard text on federal rules of evidence and teaches at Regent University Law School, a third or fourth tier school.
Profile Image for Terrence D..
80 reviews10 followers
June 26, 2018
Being already privy to the problem of false confessions and the unethical interrogation tactics utilized by LEOs, I didn't really expect a lot more from this book as an exposé on such matters. Fortunately for me, James Duane not only cited specific cases, but presented to the reader the 'dos and don'ts' of law enforcement interaction.

Far from being vitriolic towards LEOs, James Duane was actually rather kind in his opinion of them, despite his clear disdain for the justice system and its failure to be just as a whole. The author made it quite clear that his qualms were more so with legislators and judges than with LEOs. In my opinion, this was the only flaw of the book.

To affirm the failures of the justice system without condemning the failures of those enforcing unjust tactics is akin to the attempted exculpation of those in the Nuremberg trials who were "just following orders." "Just following orders" has put many an innocent man and woman in prison for years, if not decades.

This book still gets five stars for being immensely informative and eye-opening. Read it, and take his advice. Don't talk to cops — without making it abundantly clear that you want a lawyer present at even the slightest questioning or interrogation, even if you don't think you are a suspect. It could very well mean your life and/or livelihood.
Profile Image for Keith.
422 reviews194 followers
March 21, 2017
This should be required reading for anyone who might find themselves on the receiving end of any interaction with police officials in the USA—which is to say, every adult who comes within shooting distance of our borders or the airports that provide an approach to them.

Why? Everything you've learned about your rights from watching television is now wrong. "You have the right to remain silent." Think you so? It does not mean what you think it means, and your attempt to exercise this vanishing right could land you in prison long time. "But I didn't do anything wrong!" Think you so? Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and you, my friend, are more ignorant of the law than the police and the lawyers—who do not know the law either. No one does. No one can. The law is more voluminous than any human lifespan allows time to read, let alone understand, and by the time you make a start you are already wrong as new laws get passed.

If you are asked any question by a police officer or government agent and you realize that it is not in your best interest to answer, you should not mention the Fifth Amendment privilege or tell the police that you wish to exercise your right to avoid incriminating yourself. [....] Instead mention your Sixth Amendment right to a lawyer, and tell the police that you want a lawyer.


Four words, beyond your name: "I want a lawyer." As a statement, not a question. No ad libs. "I want a lawyer," and nothing else. Feel like arguing? Go read the book first and see how well that worked out for those who came before you.
Profile Image for Michael.
185 reviews24 followers
September 10, 2020
"Don't talk to the police."

Believe it or not, this is the single most important self-defense tip you will ever learn from the Internet, and the best part is, anyone, regardless of age or gender, can put it into practice.

You may already know James Duane, even if you don't recognize him. A 2008 lecture he delivered at Regent University School of Law entitled "Don't Talk to the Police" went viral on the internet, garnering millions of views and sparking discussions about everything from the Fifth Amendment to the problems inherent in the US criminal justice system.

You Have the Right to Remain Innocent is Duane's follow-up to this original lecture, as well as a basic encapsulation of the lecture itself. At 152 pages written in the same leisurely, entertaining style as Duane's verbal delivery, you can breeze through it in a matter of hours. If you don't have a few hours, or don't want to cram another book onto you already-overloaded and slumping shelves, then at the very least you owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and especially your children (this goes double if your skin is any shade darker than my pasty-white countenance, or you speak with an accent indicating American English is not your first language) to watch his original presentation.

If it's been a few years since you saw it, watch it again. If you don't live in the US but will be visiting for any length of time, watch it. Especially if you are not a criminal. Go right ahead, I'll wait. In fact, if you want to watch the video then close this review without leaving a comment or like, I'll be perfectly happy with that outcome. That is how important this lecture is to anyone who spends any amount of time on US soil.

What's so instructive about this video isn't James Duane's persuasive presentation, but the fact that after his twenty-five minute talk, he opens the stage up to George Bruch, a real life police officer with decades of experience on the force, and allows him to have the last word.

Now you would think that, at the very least, a veteran cop is going to argue with everything Duane has just said. After all, if people stop talking to the police (with two very important exceptions Duane covers in the lecture and I'll repeat below), doesn't that make it harder for them to do their jobs? Wouldn't this make it more likely that criminals will go free? Why, if you have done nothing and have nothing to hide, would you refuse to help the police by talking to them?

You'd think that, but Officer Bruch disagrees. In fact, the first words out of his mouth once he reaches the podium are, "[E]verything he said was true." This, in fact, is one of the first things members of law enforcement tell their children: if you're ever in a situation where a cop wants you to talk to them, or wishes to search your person, your home, your property, or your vehicle, decline. If they persist, tell them you want a lawyer in no uncertain terms ("I want a lawyer."), and repeat this phrase until you're provided with council or they declare you are free to go.

Now, why would a police officer argue that people shouldn't talk to him? Because people talking to the police makes their jobs easier. And that's a bad thing.

It's a bad thing because talking to the police is inherently stressful. Even if you've done nothing wrong and have no reason to be concerned, that doesn't mean you won't make a mistake that could result in you spending time behind bars. As Officer Bruch points out, nearly all people, especially the innocent, want to do the right thing -- we bend over backwards to be helpful, to be truthful, to be nice. Unfortunately with the way the US criminal justice system is set up, doing the right thing can land you on death row.

Duane points out multiple examples of people who were convicted in court, sentenced, and served stints in prison for crimes they did not commit because they said the wrong thing, and the police used that testimony to nail them to the wall. These people were not guilty; they were innocent men and women whose convictions were later overturned thanks to groups like The Innocence Project. Once the police have you talking, your every word will be scrutinized, picked apart, and evaluated based on every other word you uttered. You can wind up confessing to a crime you didn't commit, or didn't even realize you had committed, because you didn't know it was a crime, and because the police have the protected power to lie to and deceive you by any means necessary during an interview.

In the book, Duane gives a jaw-dropping example of a man who was convicted of a murder he did not commit because, when the police asked him his whereabouts at a certain time, the man truthfully stated that he and his wife were eating dinner together at a restaurant. How, Duane asks, could telling the police you were eating dinner, at a restaurant, with your spouse, possibly result in your conviction? He invites the reader to imagine any scenario, any situation at all, where the act of eating dinner with your wife could get you sent to prison.

Then he unravels the horrifying ball of yarn.

There was no physical evidence linking this man to his wife's murder. There was no reason at all to suspect him. But between this single, truthful statement, and the testimony of an expert witness at the trial who stated the contents of the murdered woman's stomach indicated a specific window for time of death, the prosecution was able to place the husband in close proximity to her during that window. Conviction was secured on that basis alone.

Because the man admitted, to the police, during an interrogation, that he'd eaten dinner with his wife earlier in the evening, he lost years of his life in prison before DNA evidence finally overturned his conviction and he was set free.

That's only one instance. There are thousands of similar cases to be found in every state.

For me, the single most important fact of both the lecture and the book involves the Miranda warning. If you've ever watched a police procedural, you know Miranda backwards and forwards because the cops always shout it into the suspect's ear as they're bundling him or her into the police cruiser. The most important phrase in Miranda is this:

"Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law."

It may not seem like it, but that begs examination. Read it again. Don't interpret it through any filters of what you believe it means. Read exactly what it says, word for word, and pay particular attention to what it does not say. It's not as straightforward as you think.

Did you catch the important word? I'll help: "Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law."

Because of the way criminal law works, the police are only allowed to present evidence that works towards the conviction of a defendant when testifying in court. Even if you told the police something exculpatory during your interview, if you gave evidence for your innocence when speaking to an officer, whether it was recorded or not, the officer's hands are legally bound. No one on the police force, from the arresting officers to the detectives who perform the interrogations, from your average beat cop to the Chief of Police, can tell the court anything which might serve in your defense. Even when your lawyer gets to cross-examine them, even if your lawyer knows of a conversation you had with an officer with details pertaining to your innocence, any attempt to push the police for exculpatory evidence in court will be challenged as hearsay by the prosecution under the rules of evidence, which will be upheld by the judge, and that will be that.

In other words: talking to the police can only hurt your case. No matter how much the officer may personally believe in your innocence, no matter how convinced that one friendly detective may be that the state is bringing a case against the wrong person, they cannot provide one word in your defense, they can only testify towards your conviction.

If you don't read the book, if you don't watch Duane's lecture, that right there is the single most important piece of information to be gleaned from them. It is impossible for any law enforcement officer involved in your case to go to bat for you on the witness stand. Before watching Duane's talk (something I have done multiple times ever since I ran across it in 2012), I didn't know or understand this. It seems contradictory. It makes no sense. The police don't want to convict the innocent any more than the innocent want to be convicted. Nevertheless, it is true. The police serve only for the prosecution, never for the defense.

The other thing I'd like to note is Duane's choice of title. "You Have the Right to Remain Innocent."

Why is this important? Because if a case goes to trial, there are two possible verdicts the court can render. Do you know what they are?

Did you say 'Guilty' and 'Innocent'?

Sorry, you're wrong.

Courts, whether civil or criminal, decided by a judge or a jury, can never find a defendant "innocent", no matter what exculpatory evidence is presented, even though jurors are always instructed to assume the defendant is "innocent until proven guilty". Once you're a defendant, you cannot be "innocent". Innocence is not determined in a court of law, only guilt. Thus, if you wind up the defendant in a legal matter, no matter the charges, the court's options are 'Guilty' and 'Not Guilty'. Even if DNA evidence proves you had nothing to do with the crime, even in the unlikely event that a person stands up in the court room and declares that he or she is in fact the guilty party, you cannot be judged 'Innocent'. 'Not Guilty' is the best outcome you can hope for -- innocence is only afforded to those who are not defendants.

The only way to remain innocent in the eyes of the law is to not be charged with a crime. And the best way to avoid being charged with a crime, especially to avoid being charged with a crime you did not commit, is to never talk to the police, with two exceptions.

Police officers have the right to demand an answer to two, and only two, very specific questions they may ask you. Those questions are, "Who are you?", and, "What are you doing, right here, right now?" As Duane puts it:

If you are ever approached by a police officer with those two questions, and your God-given common sense tells you that the officer is being reasonable in asking for an explanation, don’t be a jerk.


That doesn't mean, however, that after establishing those two facts, you should entertain an officer's request for further information about things not happening in the present time. Duane again:

But if the police officer tries to strike up a conversation with you about the past, and where you were thirty minutes earlier, and who you were with, and where you had dinner, and with whom—you will not answer those questions. You will not be rude, but you will always firmly decline, with all due respect, to answer those questions.


Beyond that, if the officer persists in questioning or detains you, the next four words out of your mouth, no matter how much you want to help the police with their case, no matter how innocent you are, no matter your belief that nothing you say could possibly result in your prosecution because you've committed no crime, must be: "I want a lawyer."

Memorize them. Teach your family. Teach your children. Those four words could mean the difference between life and death one day. If you need further proof and the words of a lawyer who writes in an easy to understand fashion will persuade you, then by all means buy this book, read it, and share it with your friends. Because in the United States of America, you do have the right to remain innocent.

Five enormous law textbooks out of five.
Profile Image for B. P. Rinehart.
747 reviews253 followers
February 26, 2020
In 2008, a conservative evangelical criminal defense attorney debated a police officer at Regents University and advocated that under no circumstances should a person ever talk to the police. This video went viral and Duane became a minor celebrity in the legal world. Duane decided to write this book a few years later based on numerous questions and letters he got after this video, two US Supreme Court cases that made using the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution harder to invoke, and the Black Lives Matter Movement was ongoing (also this book was published in 2016). James Duane is certainly no progressive lawyer (though he is a friend of Loretta Lynch), but even he realized that American's right against self-incrimination was being gradually eroded by the US judiciary. This book expands on his viral video and talks about the hazards of using your right against self-incrimination after 2013.

"I am not a member of a racial minority, and I am well aware of the reality that far too many individuals of color are harassed by officers for no good reason, so it is easier for me to give the above advice than for others who have been subject to such harassment. After all, I have never been stopped by a police officer who thought I was riding a bike that looked like it might be too expensive for somebody of my race. And I cannot imagine how frustrating such prejudicial suspicion must be. But you cannot make your situation any better by refusing to cooperate with the officer, no matter how unreasonable you may think the police officer is being, or by refusing to disclose two simple things: (1) your name, and (2) whether you have some lawful reason for your curious presence or conduct at that moment at some place where the officer already knows you are, because he or she is standing right there with you."

In the 5th Amendment to the Constitution there is a self-incrimination clause that reads: "No person shall be...compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." The 6th Amendment to the Constitution has a assistance of counsel clause that reads: "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall...have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence." With subsequent interpretations like Gideon v. Wainwright & Miranda v. Arizona this has come to mean that when the police talk to you for questioning in a criminal case you have the right to respectfully decline and ask for a lawyer if convicted. You use to be able to just remain silent, but Salinas v. Texas means that you have to unambiguously and firmly invoke your 5th Amendment right (without saying you are requesting the 5th Amendment by name) and unambiguously request a lawyer. It was interesting to see a conservative lawyer have to praise Antonin Scalia and correctly identity him as leading the assault on the right against self-incrimination (of course, he does criticize the Obama-era Department of Justice with working with the conservatives on the Supreme Court towards this end).

This book does not spend time on the causes of this willful erosion of people's civil liberties on the right against self-incrimination, but it does detail the effects and how to guard against them. Again, I was intrigued by the fact that this was a book written not by a leftist, but rightist that detailed all the ways that the police and federal agents have been empowered to use every means of deception possible to make people incriminate themselves for crimes--no matter if they are innocent or guilty. Some of these cases he advocates will be familiar, some won't and he almost invokes Poe's Law with the lengths he goes through to say, "police are not bad, but you should not trust them when they want to ask you questions not pertaining to what you are doing in the immediate present moment." Despite some of these verbal gymnastics he goes through, this was a fairly simple to understand look at how to not self-incriminate yourself when the police try to approach you for questioning.

"There is only one way to avoid this problem. When you ask for a lawyer, do not worry about sounding polite, because that will make you sound unduly tentative or equivocal. Never ask the police officers what their opinion might be. In fact, do not ask any questions when you insist on the presence of a lawyer. Do not even use the words I think or might or maybe. You need to say, with no adverbs, in only four words, “I want a lawyer.” And then you need to say it again, and again, until the police finally give up and realize they are dealing with someone who knows how our legal system really works."
Profile Image for Ariel.
585 reviews23 followers
February 6, 2017
This is a short informational text designed to let the reader know how to deal with law enforcement or really any other government agency that wants to question to them. The author's belief of never talk to the police is one I have held for a long time, this book just gave concrete evidence to what I already instinctively knew. To sum up this book, if you are asked questions by the police or other government authority and you feel that they are trying to gain evidence on you, you should claim the sixth (not the fifth amendment) and firmly say "I want a lawyer". Saying other than those four words can open yourself open to a possible false conviction. The book is full of examples of people who said many things other than those four words and found themselves in jail for many years even though they did not commit a crime. Of course I am a law abiding citizens and do not have interactions with the police but this is just good information to have in the back of your mind or to pass on to others because information is power. 5 stars for the books information, 3 stars for it's somewhat dry delivery.
Profile Image for Athan Tolis.
309 reviews565 followers
March 25, 2018
More pamphlet than book, and with a single message: don’t talk to police.

Here’s the summary:

By law, a prosecutor can see to it that nothing you tell the police is used in court to help you. That’s a law. Save the good stuff for your lawyer and your day in court!

Conversely, everything you tell them can be used in court to hurt your case:

• You may inadvertently tell them something inaccurate; potentially, that’s perjury.
• You could waste a perfectly good alibi by getting a detail wrong.
• You may tell them something absolutely correct that some expert falsely disputes and then you’ve lied, again, and you’ve provided them with an “aha” moment for the jury.
• You may tell them something that to you seems irrelevant, but to them helps bolster or build a case against you out of nothing.
• You may even bend under their pressure and confess to something you did not do!

The cops are allowed to lie to extract a confession: they can lie about whether you’re a suspect or not, they can lie about what you’re suspected of, they can lie about details of the case, they are in all probability lying about any lenience they may be offering you, they are trained to legally set you up to look like you possess information that you only could have gotten if you were at the scene of the crime. They are very unlikely to transcribe or record your conversation accurately and, again, any errors will play against you.

The police can legally feed back everything you discussed with them to whoever is accusing you and help them build their case!

None of this is because the police are bad; it’s because they are people. As people they are both fallible and liable to look for every possible angle that can support an initial wrong guess. Some may even be more than fallible and venal and not want to admit they were wrong to suspect you.

Keeping quiet can help you stay away from all this trouble.

Sadly, even this advice is no longer perfect, because the Supreme Court has ruled that an innocent person would have no reason to say something as straightforward as “I would not like to speak with you because the constitution affords me the right to avoid self-incrimination.” These days, you have to invoke the Sixth Amendment rather than the Fifth, and firmly ask for a lawyer!

So that’s what the book says. I have plenty to add, but will keep it brief:

I’ll be fifty in June, so now I have friends who have gone to jail. It is invariably for a statement they have naively given, which the cop afterwards baptized “a confession.” But don’t take it from me, read Michael Lewis’ book about Sergey Aleynikov; or compare and contrast what happened to the Barclays LIBOR guys (who asked for a lawyer) and the Citibank LIBOR guy, who spent 86 hours talking to the cops first. The way a dear friend tells it who got 13 years for a crime he had nothing to do with, “jail is for the stupid.” (The Greek word he used has three a’s in it.)

In short, the justice system is a system that closes cases, not a system that seeks justice. The antechamber of this Kafkaesque hell is the police station. If you have not managed to avoid the visit to the antechamber, keep stumm until you’ve hired the best legal help you can. In doing so, you’re hiring part of the system, you’re paying cash into the system, you’re getting the system on side. And you’re involving part of the system that’s a pay grade (or ten) above the cop who’s looking to feed you with your confession and write it up for you. That’s your best bet.
Profile Image for Hannah.
321 reviews49 followers
August 24, 2016
Throughout the book, James Duane explores why someone–especially someone innocent–should never talk to the police (and instead should repeat “I want a lawyer”). The content of the book is a bit dry–he uses case histories of people who have been wrongfully convicted or have given false confessions. But Duane livens up the content with some excerpts from his lecture, “Don’t Talk to Police.”

My favorite excerpt is an exercise where Duane outlines a fictional crime report and then asks four questions about the report. I only got three of the four questions right, and I can absolutely see how hours of misleading questions and interrogation might drive someone to (mistakenly or not) give false information in a criminal investigation. I was astounded at some of the case examples and the examples of how incredibly vague many federal statutes are, allowing for much interpretation in court.

Though there were few humorous moments in the book, I liked that the overall tone was outrage and disbelief–at how efficient the police are at dragging confessions out of innocent people (false confessions aplenty), at the precedent set of holding a defendant’s use of their Fifth Amendment rights against them as evidence of guilt, and at the broken state of USA’s legal system in general. However, Duane does get a little overzealous at times, using plenty of exclamation points and calling large groups of people morons and idiots.

After watching Netflix’s “Making a Murderer” (true crime docuseries about Steven Avery’s wrongful conviction for sexual assault and, upon release from prison, near-immediate conviction for murder), reading You Have the Right to Remain Innocent was especially gratifying. For any who haven’t seen the series, the point is made that the police used coercive and appalling interrogation technique’s on Avery’s 16-year-old nephew. This book discusses at length the ways police are allowed to lie to the public about investigations in order to “catch” someone in a lie, which follows up incredibly well on the outrage of watching “Making a Murderer.”

Granted, I work with administrative rules (which implement federal statute) for a living, but I think that anyone who enjoys true crime stories, anyone who wonders why false confessions happen, anyone who’s interested in finding out what happens when you voluntarily enter a police station as a suspect in a criminal investigation, or anyone who thinks that if you are innocent you have nothing to hide would both learn from and enjoy this book.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Tashaffi.
17 reviews40 followers
March 26, 2021
What are the four magic words?
I want a lawyer

This is a quick read and a concisely written book that touches on a practical problem. If you think you have a particularly trusting nature, you should definitely read this book. Innocent people are more likely to give a confession under pressure than guilty ones because they are unsuspecting and feel like they have nothing to hide. Key takeaways from this book:

1. The law enforcement agency is not your friend even if you are an innocuous individual with no past criminal record.

2. Only ever answer two questions from the police: What is your identity? If your location or activity can cause reasonable suspicion, tell them the purpose of your current activity. For example, if you had to break into your own window because you locked yourself out, explain respectfully why you had to do this.

3. Do not answer any more questions or anything in the past tense. Exercise your right to have a lawyer present.

4. It is important to keep in mind that the police may lie to you about any aspect of an investigation to elicit a confession. If you are certain of your innocence, do not be confused if they say with seemingly unquestionable certainty that they have video evidence of you being part of the crime. The deception on the part of the police will not invalidate any information you give up about yourself. It is safe to assume that everything you know about an investigation is false.

5. Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. Take this statement at face value. The police are legally bound to use your statements only to get you convicted. No statements provided by you will be used at court to claim your innocence even if the police promise you that.

6. Do not simply remain mute. Let the police know explicitly and unequivocally that you are willing to co-operate but only after speaking to a lawyer.

This was a long review because I think everyone needs to know about this.
Profile Image for Mark Robison.
998 reviews73 followers
January 7, 2017
If you’ve ever thought “What’s the harm in talking to the police if I’ve done nothing wrong,” then you need to read this book. It starts with the simple fact that police detectives and district attorneys advise their own children to never talk to the police without a lawyer present. And near the end, it chronicles multiple cases where people were wrongly convicted based largely on completely true statements they made to the police. He rolls out some incredible statistics, like in one study of wrongly convicted people later vindicated by DNA evidence that found 40% included police testimony claiming the person said something “only the killer could've known.” The thing that most surprised me involved the rules of evidence regarding what you say to the police. If you say 300 things and 297 are exculpatory and 3 could be twisted against you, then in court, the police detective will only testify to the 3 things that make you look guilty and if the defense attorney tries to get the detective to discuss the other 297 things that work in your favor, that will be objected to as hearsay and the judge will agree. In other words, of the things you tell the police, only those that work against you will be allowed in court and nothing that works in your favor will. Consider that next time you think it can’t hurt to talk to the police without a lawyer. A short, powerful must read. Grade: A
Profile Image for Barry.
814 reviews29 followers
November 20, 2017
This was a real eye-opener. Before reading this book, if questioned by the police or any government agent I would have probably agreed to answer any of their questions candidly and honestly, thinking that they would surely realize that I was one of the good guys and then move on. Now I know better. The only questions you should answer are, "Who are you?" and "What are you doing now?" The proper response to any other question is, "I want a lawyer." Any other answer could be potentially catastrophic.
If you think this advice seems paranoid or overly cautious then you need to read this book. Or watch the author's YouTube video, or at least read the review by Negin.
Profile Image for Thomas Ray.
866 reviews302 followers
Want to read
July 29, 2019
This is a lawyer advising people to hire a lawyer. It may be necessary--but the process is the punishment. Lawyer's fees, court fees, interminable process, can make even winning ruinous. The justice system preys on the accused, demanding repeated appearances for a perpetually-postponed day in court.
Profile Image for Leftbanker.
770 reviews279 followers
October 11, 2020
You probaby think you don't need to read this book. However...

"One reliable estimate is that the average American now commits approximately three felonies a day."

This should be required reading for all Americans, Black and White, male and female, rich and poor.

Here is the very short version:

1. Never talk to the cops except to answer two questions: name and what you are doing right now and only because you can’t deny that later.

2. Don’t plead the 5th and don’t politely ask for a lawyer. Demand a lawyer and shut the fuck up..

The book is short and fascinating and well worth reading. I also recommend the video. As of this writing, this video has 8,481, 341 views on 10OCT20.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-7o9...
Profile Image for Geoff.
960 reviews86 followers
January 19, 2019
The deck is stacked. The system is broken. If you're brought in for questioning don't talk and demand a lawyer. Especially if you're innocent.
Profile Image for P. Kirby.
Author 3 books69 followers
February 19, 2019
A timely and often distressing discussion of how easily officials in law enforcement (police, FBI, etc.) can manipulate and lie to move a narrative in the direction dictated by their own confirmation bias. The short version of the book is basically, "Don't Talk to the Police."

Duane's admonition doesn't mean that you should never talk to police, but instead focuses on:
"...to tell you how to handle a situation in which a police officer or other government agent comes to you without warning, in an encounter you neither requested nor proposed, and wants to ask you some questions about where you have been, who you have been with, and what you have done."


In the book, Duane lays out examples of why even your most innocuous comment from can be used against you in court. The real life examples given, death row inmates convicted via supposed "confessions," some often coerced, and only exonerated decades later thanks to DNA evidence, are hyperbole. But they did occur and similar scenarios continue to play out every day. Those most vulnerable to this manner of injustice are usually young, ill, or minorities. But, the advice given in the book is of use to anyone, whatever their background.

And that advice would be, when finding oneself in the situation described above, do not plead the Fifth Amendment because recently courts have been eroding the power of the 5th, particularly when the person hasn't been formally arrested. Instead, politely, but clearly and firmly, state that you want a lawyer before proceeding.

I would recommend that everyone read this book, but with a few caveats. First, even though the book's conclusions are generally sound, a chunk of the writing is spent ranting about Congressional laws. Basically, the tone is that of every right-wing crank ranting about over-regulation. There is a case to be made against poorly written, vague laws, but unfortunately the citations backing up the book's claims are from purveyors of alt-right crazysauce such as The Cato Institute, The Heritage Foundation and Fox News.

Second, the author ignores the role of race in the matter, and describes clearly corrupted (and probably racially motivated) police as "well meaning." He describes Supreme Court Scalia as a staunch defender of individual rights despite the fact that Scalia is largely responsible for the continuing destruction of the Fifth Amendment's protections.

Third, there's a thin line between police interviewing a witness to a crime vs. interviews with a potential suspect. Unfortunately, the book offers little guidance on how to differentiate between the two situations. (My guess would be if the conversation strayed from the immediate facts of the witnessed crime and started delving into your relationship and past with the victim.)

Criticisms, aside, You Have the Right to Remain Innocent is a short and necessary book that everyone should read.
Profile Image for Linh Tran.
13 reviews4 followers
September 18, 2016
First, a huge thank you to NetGalley and Little A for approving my request to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

In this book, Duane, a Fifth Amendment expert, discusses about how the best solution to police questioning is that you should never agree to answer anything at all. Even when one may think they have nothing to hide, a confession, even truthful, can be used against them. However, things are not that simple: when you remain silent, you may prove that you are guilty instead. Therefore, you must explicitly state your rights and make sure that you get the police to stop questioning you. Also, plead the Sixth Amendment instead: always get a lawyer.

This book arrived in an appropriate time during this political and social turmoil. Police brutality is rampant, and reports come after reports about how the police mistakenly arrest someone, how innocent people may be tricked into serving decades in prison, etc. I understand Duane’s intention, and I do, for the most part, enjoy the style of the book. It’s written in a practical manner, with easy to understand vocabulary–but I think despite the good intention, this book doesn’t know its targets because of its content focus and tone. Because of that, I unfortunately don’t know what purpose it serves in the larger context of the conversation laypeople have with the police.


The most jarring part of this book is that while there are three chapters, 70% of the book is dedicated to the first one, on how people should not talk to the police. This is the advice that Duane repeats over and over again with zest: people should not waive their Fifth Amendment at all cost. To serve this point, he includes stories of people who were innocent yet confessed to the police because they thought they had nothing to hide, and — surprise — their confessions were served as evidence against them. But after that 70% mark, he starts to talk about how things are not that simple, and during arrest, people should say certain things to the police instead of remaining silent. Why would you spend so long discussing something, and then finally give the nuance about how that might end up hurting you? If people drop off reading the book prior to that point, then… what’s the point of the book in the first place? The nuance to the right to remain silent should have been established a lot earlier on. This focus on one advice makes it seem that Mr. Duane is more interested in selling his idea and belief rather than understanding people’s circumstances.

Duane also addresses that because the police are “working within a legal system that is highly imperfect” (loc 131), laypeople are better off, and “might have avoided going to prison altogether if they had simply read this book” (loc 149). If the legal system is the problem here, then a self-help book that would change human behaviors can’t help the people. A book can’t simply provide innocent people the knowledge to fight against a system with, as Duane already knows, so many things going against them. There’s the police, the police’s rights–and even when one pleads the Fifth or Sixth, the police has a set amount of hours before they can go back to keep questioning anyway. In short, human behaviors are intrinsic and hard to change. And even when they can change, if Duane is a former attorney: if he already knows that the legal system is highly imperfect, his focus should be on fixing the system instead. Address how the law can keep the police from interrogating people falsely. Address how the law can reward police for doing their duty well instead of for arresting people. Address how the law can be less imperfect, rather than shifting the responsibility to the people. People do need to know their own rights, yes, but at the same time, they can’t keep constantly defending themselves forever if the system doesn’t change.

On the note of how Duane asserts that people can protect themselves by reading his book, the whole book is littered with those kinds of arrogant remarks. He constantly mentions how “fortunately, there’s one very simple way to eliminate [the possibility of police misunderstanding your statement] altogether[:] Don’t talk to the police,” (loc 697) or that “[the readers] don’t need to take [his] words for it” (loc 729) when a truth might be used against them for evidence. This brings my point to how the book has no idea what its audience is: regardless of age, no one wants to be talked to with an arrogant tone. I’d actually dare to say that most of the things in here are common sense, anyway: people don’t want to get in trouble with the police. It’s a no-win situation when they confess, sure, but what comes after would be more important.

Some people may be tricked into serving in prison more than they would have to, but what’s the alternative? Simply not saying anything may not help discrimination on the police’s part. Sometimes letting people know about their rights won’t actually end up in better outcomes. Also, the “I want a lawyer” part at the end can be a bit too wishful: can all afford their own lawyers? People who are sophisticated enough to pick up this book and actually read through the end can maybe figure out that they should get a lawyer when they’re arrested, but if you can’t afford one, then you’ll have to deal with investigation over and over again, and you might as well just give in and confess anyway, because the human psyche can only endure so much.

In the end, this is a helpful book for the upper- and middle-class readers who manage to get to the end of the book, have no idea that the justice system is deeply flawed, and have the money to afford their own lawyers. Otherwise, this knowledge doesn’t serve to be helpful to those whose rights need to be protected the most, and it’s unfortunate.

(Also, I have no idea why this book is sorted in General Fiction (Adult) and Literary Fiction instead of Nonfiction on NetGalley.)
Profile Image for Connie D.
1,460 reviews45 followers
June 23, 2020
This is a short read, so don't get scared by the idea of a whole book discussing how and when we should answer police questions and how to protect ourselves legally. Very useful info with great examples of what can happen to anyone (not necessarily intentionally either).

Profile Image for Book.
726 reviews134 followers
August 15, 2018
You Have the Right to Remain Innocent by James Duane

“You Have the Right to Remain Innocent” is no-nonsense book that intends to educate the general populace on how to protect itself from a legal system that is designed to take advantage of ignorance and good intentions. Professor at Regent Law School in Virginia Beach, Virginia James Duane provides the public with a valuable lesson. This stimulating 154-page book includes the following three chapters: 1. Don’t Talk to the Police, 2. Don’t Plead the Fifth, and 3. Plead the Sixth.

Positives:
1. A brief, well-written book. Duane is direct and fair.
2. An important topic, how to protect yourself legally.
3. Mastery of the topic.
4. Doesn’t waste time to get to the heart of the matter. “Nobody of sound mind can dispute that there is something fundamentally wrong, and intrinsically corrupt, about a legal system that encourages police officers and prosecutors to do everything in their power to persuade you and your children (no matter how young or old) to “do the right thing” and talk—when they tell their own children the exact opposite.”
5. There are in fact two questions a police officer has a right to ask. Find out what they are.
6. He has two specific problems with the police. “The only two problems I have with the police (although they are very big problems) are these: The first problem with the police is that they are only human.”
7. Makes use of recent research to back up his points. “The most recent and comprehensive investigation, which took a careful look at 250 prisoners exonerated by DNA evidence, found that 16 percent of them made what’s called a false confession: admitting their commission of a crime that they did not commit.”
8. Provides many examples throughout this brief book. “In a California case, a sixteen-year-old defendant agreed to talk to the police only after one of them told him, “The fact is this, Freddy, is I can’t help you unless you talk to me.” He then gave a statement that was used to help convict him, and he was sentenced to life in prison without any possibility of parole.”
9. Words of wisdom to live by. “The bottom line is plain: you cannot safely trust a single word that you hear from the mouth of a police officer who is trying to get you to talk.”
10. Examples of legal abuse. “Because of these rules of evidence, a prosecutor is allowed to handpick the parts of your statement to the police that might be used against you, reveal those parts to the jury, and keep back the rest.”
11. Practical advise that may save your life. “All he needs to do is respectfully tell the police that he will not answer any questions and that he would like a lawyer—the same thing that the officers have instructed their own kids to do in that situation.” “If you give the police information that turns out to be inaccurate, and the police mistakenly believe that you were lying to them on purpose, that fact can be devastating to your defense in three different ways.”
12. How a conservative majority on the Supreme Court has diminished the power of pleading the fifth. “In the case of Salinas v. Texas, decided in 2013, the five most conservative justices on the court (the only five appointed by Republican presidents) held for the first time that the silence of a criminal suspect, at least if the suspect is not in custody, is logically relevant evidence that is admissible against the suspect at trial and may be used to help persuade the jury that the suspect is guilty!”
13. Find out the couple of rules that you must observe about what you should say, and what you must NOT say.
14. Reasons on why NOT to assert the Fifth Amendment privilege. “The Department of Justice has now served official notice that it believes the courts should allow a prosecutor to argue under any circumstances that your willingness to assert the Fifth Amendment privilege can and should be used against you as evidence of your guilt.”
15. Why you should mention the Sixth Amendment instead of the Fifth. “Do not even use the words I think or might or maybe. You need to say, with no adverbs, in only four words, “I want a lawyer.” And then you need to say it again, and again, until the police finally give up and realize they are dealing with someone who knows how our legal system really works.”
16. Links to notes.

Negatives:
1. This is a one-trick pony so if you are looking for something beyond the main topic look elsewhere. In another word, repetitive.
2. No formal bibliography.
3. Not as good as his famous YouTube video on the subject.

In summary, Professor Duane provides the public with a valuable lesson. His approach is direct and brief but it may protect you from an imperfect system. He also provides many interesting cases; an important lesson worth learning, I recommend it!

Further suggestions: “The Know Your Bill of Rights Book” by Sean Patrick, “The Conservative Assault on the Constitution” by Erwin Chemerinsky, “Mistrial” by Mark Geragos and Pat Harris, “Unfair” by Adam Benforado, and “Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and The Constitution” by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz.
172 reviews
September 15, 2019
Informative, succinct, and eye-opening, with interesting real-life examples. Still repeating to myself: “I want a lawyer”
Profile Image for Dax.
115 reviews2 followers
November 22, 2018
Strongly recommend reading changed the way I will deal with the justice system. Short and entertaining with lots of unbelievable stories to illustrate points I read in one sitting.
Profile Image for Corvus.
549 reviews140 followers
October 9, 2016
I hate to give this such a low rating because Duane obviously cares about this topic and about helping people to understand their rights. I didn't find the material as boring as other reviewers because I'm interested in both criminal injustice and human behavior. Yet, this book is flawed in multiple ways.

It is disorganized which makes understanding how the case studies and other resources fit together difficult. The author never summarizes exactly what someone should say or do after he spends most of the book telling them what not to do. Furthermore, he gives cops, prosecutors, and judges way too much credit for being "only human" which can suggest that somehow criminal suspects are on an equal playing field with cops. I don't know if he was trying to avoid coming off as anti-police but in my opinion, you can't write this book without directly calling out the police and the criminal injustice system (which to his credit, he does do at times but then back pedals and calls cops who are obviously playing Russian roulette with people's lives "well intentioned.") Finally, a pet peeve was how often he downplayed the exploitation of nonhuman animals as a way to give examples of poorly written laws. I know most folks don't care much about animals other than some humans but I am always going to call it like I see it.

I do think Duane is capable of turning this into a better book with some organization and elaboration. I received this as a good reads giveaway so maybe this is not the final version. It needs to be longer and better edited. I do dig the cover design though.

In short, if you aren't interested in case studies, avoid this book and repeat after me: "Am I being detained? Am I free to go? I am going to remain silent. I want to speak to an attorney. I do not consent to a search." Rinse and repeat.
Profile Image for Helen.
693 reviews87 followers
October 25, 2018
This is an important book - read, in this audio edition, by the author - about the ways law enforcement can trick people into saying things that may incriminate them, why law enforcement can lie to you in the course of an interrogation, although it is of course a crime to lie to law enforcement, and how many innocent people have been sent to jail because of things they were tricked into saying in the course of interrogations, or because they wanted to be helpful. The important thing to remember is the following 4 words: "I want a lawyer" - other than sharing your name, and what you are doing at that moment, then nothing but the above needs to be said. Of course, the writer, who is an attorney, does say that you must use your common sense, and talk to l/e politely and share basic information - but other than that, it is best to simply say the above 4 words in response to a request for more info. Interestingly, and frighteningly, the very law that is supposed to protect citizens from incriminating themselves - the 5th Amendment - can be taken as an indication of guilt! Thus, the best thing to do is to talk a bit to the police, but if more information might be incriminatory, or you do not know what the point of the interrogation is, then simply ask for an attorney.

The author gives numerous examples of innocent people who were wrongly convicted because of information they gave to the police, who were later exonerated by DNA evidence.

The audio is about 3 hours long - but could save the listener a lifetime of false incarceration. I definitely recommend the book to everyone. We all like to think law enforcement is on our side, but it's not always the case, as this book demonstrates.
Profile Image for Jeremy.
Author 2 books208 followers
Want to read
May 17, 2022
I pass by Dr. Duane on a regular basis, as our offices are on in the same building on the same floor. I show his video ("Don't Talk to the Police") in one of the courses that I teach.

See Plodcast, Episode #23: don't just plead the fifth; plead the sixth. Also recommended here. Ironically, it shows up here too (from a letter by one of Wilson's grandsons): "I have always instinctively liked and trusted cops. I have learned the hard way to never, ever talk to them. I have learned the hard way that officers are trained to lie to you and that some are even willing to lie under oath, being willing to sacrifice the future of a couple kids, even potentially imprisoning them, rather than admit personal or professional fault. My advice, tips, and lessons for the next time you or I are dealing with cops is basically this: Do not trust them. Don't believe them. Don't even speak to them. Remember that you have the right to remain silent and you have the fifth amendment." Duane spoke at a Hale Institute event on April 20, 2022.
46 reviews
February 3, 2017
Essential advice

I'm a former attorney and judge, but only briefly worked in criminal defense - and I learned a lot in this short, entertaining book about how the criminal justice system works (or, in too many tragic cases, doesn't) for those who get caught up in it. Hopefully this is advice most people will never need, but (1) if you do, you'll be glad to have it, and (2) even if you don't, we all would prefer to live in a society where justice feels, well, Just, and being familiar with the issues facing many stands as a call to reform, so that innocent people don't have to worry about becoming victims themselves.

Mr. Duane does a great survey of the law in the field, and presents it in a way which is informative for anyone who doesn't deal regularly with criminal law, and is as accessible for lay readers as it is for practitioners. I feel his tone infers that most police are out to trip up the innocent public (though he denies any disrespect for law enforcement), and he really is not a fan of federal investigators, but his intention is clearly to urge consistent exercise of the right to remain silent (and to have the assistance of an attorney), to ensure you don't get tripped up in case you do happen to encounter an overzealous officer.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 400 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.