You Have the Right to Remain Innocent is one of those books whose title jumped out at me. I saw it as one of Amazon’s daily deals, and when I realized that it was free on both audio and kindle as part of Kindle Unlimited, I picked it up.
The book has a simple argument. Each with a chapter, do not talk to the police, do not plead the fifth (right to remain silent), do plead the sixth (right to counsel). That is it. Simple and easy to remember.
The reason to read the book is the detail. The legal system in the US is a mess. I am far from libertarian, but the legal system is an area where there needs to be significant reform and where less is likely much more. US criminal law is scattered, and there are criminal penalties mixed in with other statues, and much of criminal law is vague and unknown to most people. There is an estimate in the book based on another study that the average person commits three felonies a day. Not because of criminal intent, or even sheer ignorance, but because of vague drafting. If you have household cleaners, you have probably committed a felony. The possession of any part of a potential bomb is a felony. You do not have to have all of the pieces, you do not have to have intent, merely having one part is enough. So if you have Drano or fertilizer or many other legal everyday items, you are committing a felony. There are several other examples as well.
You Have the Right to Remain Innocent also details police and prosecutorial misconduct. James Duane affirms that most police and most prosecutors are just attempting to do their job. But their job is to arrest or convict people, not keep the peace or seek justice. Police ability to flat out lie to you and encourage you to violate your rights has been strongly supported by the courts. The police are not there to ensure that you are innocent. Prosecutors are virtually never held accountable for violating the law or your rights.
In fact, the Texas Supreme courts upheld the firing of an assistant prosecutor last year. Eric Hillman found a witness that was not included in police reports that showed a plaintiff was innocent. He was ordered to not reveal the information to the defense, in violation of the law. Hillman chose to follow the law (and the ethics requirements of the Texas Bar) and turned over the information. He was then fired for not following orders. And the Texas Supreme Court upheld it because of the Texas law does not have protections for state employees refusing to violate the law, as non-governmental employees in Texas do.
The last two sections of You Have the Right to Remain Innocent are much briefer. They detail why your first step is not to claim the fifth amendment (not to incriminate yourself) because the courts have said that refusing to talk is inherently incriminating. But instead to claim the sixth amendment, right to counsel, so that you can stop all questioning and get intervention.
Part of what this whole book reveals is the problem of interacting with the police if you are not wealthy enough to be able to afford a lawyer. It is why wealth is a strong predictor of your conviction rate.
The book is not long, about 150 pages or 2.5 hours in audio. And it really is just making a simple point that I have reiterated already. But the detail does make it worth reading.