The Reverse Miranda    Long Version    Short  Version

If your kid is picked up by the police (or for that matter if you are) do they know to keep their mouth shut until they see you or a lawyer? 

Clarence Darrow, possibly the most brilliant defense attorney of all time spoke of this issue to a jury in the Ossian Sweet case. 

Dr. Sweet was a black man who had been threatened by a mob of whites who didn't want him living in "their" neighborhood. He and some family members shot at the oncoming mob, and were arrested. 

Here is what Clarence said: 

"They were taken to a police station, manacled. And they asked for a lawyer. And, every man, if he has any brains at all, asks for a lawyer when he is in the hands of the police. If he does not want to have a web woven around him, to entangle or ensnare him, he will ask for a lawyer. And, the lawyer's first aid to the injured always is, 'Keep your mouth shut.' It is not a case of whether you are guilty or not guilty. That makes no difference. 'Keep your mouth shut.'" - Page 258, "Attorney For The Damned - Clarence Darrow in the Courtroom", Edited by Arthur Weinberg.

Things have not changed since then.

David Simon is a reporter who spent a year with Baltimore's homicide department. He wrote a book on it. On page 204 of the book, Homicide: A year on the killing streets, he explains the Miranda. I quote in part from there:

"'You have the absolute right to remain silent.' - Get it straight: A police detective, a man who gets paid government money to put you in prison, is explaining your absolute right to shut up before you say something stupid. 'Anything you say or write may be used against you in a court of law.' - ...wake...up. You're now being told that talking to a police detective in an interrogation room can only hurt you. If it could help you, they would probably be pretty quick to say that, wouldn't they? ...No, your best bet is to shut up. Shut up now. 'You have the right to talk with a lawyer at any time - before any questioning, before answering any questions, or during any questions.' - Talk about helpful. Now the man who wants to arrest you for violating the peace and dignity of the state is saying you can talk to a trained professional, an attorney... Take whatever help you can get. 'If you want a lawyer and cannot afford to hire one, you will not be asked any questions, and the court will be requested to appoint a lawyer for you.' - Translation: (If) You're a derelict. (Then there is) No charge for derelicts." 

That explains it pretty well. If you, or your child is picked up by the police, say nothing until you or them have seen an attorney. The policeman's job is not to see if you're innocent - they wouldn't have arrested you if they thought you were innocent. No, their job is to arrest someone for a crime. If you did it, great. If it looks like you did it, then that's not to bad for them either. Their job is to be able to show a convicted citizen for every crime that occurs. 

Your guilt or innocence is not an issue for them, only a jury. 

What you say to the police will be used by them to convince a jury that they DID arrest the right man. Can you imagine them trying to prove to a jury that the wrong man? 


What can you do then, if you are arrested? 

Say nothing except this: "I want to speak with an attorney, and I don't wish to answer any questions until I do." 

But what about your kids? Everyone knows how many tricks can be pulled in an interrogation room. Is it reasonable to want to have your kid say anything at all? 


Give your kids what each of mine carries. The letter that follows is printed on a piece of paper that fits neatly in each of their wallets. You should print this off for your kids: 

To: Any agent, officer, or representative of the government 
From: (insert child's name here)

If you have found this, or been presented with this, then you are holding me against my will. I wish to be released at once. If you believe you have legal reason for still holding me, then it must be for one of two reasons: 

1. You believe I have information relevant to a case and/or investigation and need my assistance. I am happy to comply and will in no way obstruct justice. Simply type up your questions and contact my parent/s at (insert number here) and upon review by them and and any attorney they so choose, I will answer any and all that they and their attorney advise me to. Please do not argue about this, or it will delay the investigation, and neither of us wants that. 

2. You believe that I have committed a crime. I want to speak with my parent/s and/or the attorney they provide me, and do not wish to answer any questions or make any statement until I do. You may contact them at (insert number here). 

While doing those things, please see to it that I am given food, drink and bathroom breaks frequently, as I will not ask. Please do not ask that I fill out, sign, initial, check off, or in anyway mark anything for any reason. I have been forbidden to do this by my parent/s until they and/or their attorney, can review any such documents. 

Finally, please do not interpret my silence as rudeness, guilt, retardation or anything else but what it is - obedience to my parent/s and their attorney. 

Copy this as much as you wish. And as an adult, you could carry this as well. Just everywhere it says parent, put your attorney's name and number in there. 

Don't have an attorney? Then spend $250 to $500 to a good lawyer as a retainer. 

A retainer for what? 

For anytime you get picked up for something that you didn't do - or did do, for that matter. Think of it as "legal insurance". That fee paid in advance means that there is a professional out there who- if you are in trouble, can be called in the middle of the night. And very cheap insurance as you are paying him a retainer one time, and hopefully won't be in any trouble at all in the years ahead.

Hope this helps,
Dean West

Short and Sweet Version

Type it out and laminate it. Make a bunch, as kids can lose these. There are many variations, this is just the "theme." 


Dear Government Agent: I am exercising my right to remain silent. Please do not coerce me into answering your questions. Please call my parents immediately.


List Parents Names and ALL contact phone numbers. List any other person that can "stand in" until parent can be reached. List your family attorney and number.