Tuesday, 22 May 2018

THE RIGHT AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION PART 2- HOW TO MAKE A STATEMENT

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In part 1 of this article, it was stated time and again that it is best to always make a statement in the presence of your lawyer. However, there may be times when the police might put so much pressure on you that it becomes difficult to resist making a statement, or when it might become imperative to make one without your lawyer present. This is not an ideal situation, but when this occurs then the following should be considered before making a statement:

1.    First recognise that there is no particular way of making your statement. There are no legal requirements as to the content of the statement.

2.    Also recognise that your statement might likely be used against you in court, so you must be very careful when making your statement. Never forget this.

3.    Also recognise that you do not have to write your statement in a way to please the police or the officers who arrested you. You are entitled to bail, so never listen to the police when they tell you that if you write your statement in a certain way they would release you. This is because your statement can be used against you in court and if you have written it in a way to please the police in order to be released temporarily, you could still be rearrested and charged to court for the commission of an offence.

4.    Always ascertain the reason for your arrest before making a statement and this must be reflected in your statement. So in your statement, you must state that you were informed by the police that you have been arrested for a certain offence (state the offence).

5.    Since a statement is aimed at knowing what you know about an incident or the role you played in any incident, it is important to state what you do know in relation to the incident alone, avoid a general narration and also try to avoid stating what you think about the whole incident. Just state what you know. So your statement must flow from the reason for your arrest.

6.    If you have any defence which you think might avail you, then this is the best time to state it, as stating it afterwards or bringing it up in court later might seem like an afterthought. So if for example you were not at the crime scene, simply say so in your statement and state facts that you are certain can corroborate your statement, with reference to persons, places, time and date. Never state an untrue fact in your statement.

7.    Ensure that your statement is simple and direct. Avoid using too many words or speaking in an ambiguous manner. The aim of a statement is not to impress, it is simply to help the police and the court know if you have committed any offence. So be very careful
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8.    Immediately you are released or as soon as practicable consult a lawyer and inform your lawyer of all that has transpired. 

It is important to remember that you can incriminate yourself by saying things which you should not say, which is why the right against self-incrimination gains expression through the right to remain silent when charged with the commission of an offence, from the point of arrest down to the point of trial. It is therefore important that you consult a lawyer the moment you are arrested or charged with an offence, to avoid a situation where after you would have made a statement incriminating yourself to the police, you would then try to absolve yourself by trying to destroy your statement like Olisa Metuh did; this can only create more problems. 

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