If you have ever watched any television or movies involving police officers, you are likely aware of your Miranda Rights. Especially the first two lines, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.” However, what many people don’t know is that statements made to the police can be recanted.
While you can take back what you said, it doesn’t mean that it won’t still be used against you. Recanting a statement made as a defendant is different from recanting a statement made as a witness. When a defendant recants their confession, a judge can still rule it to be admissible.
What happens if you recant your statement?
If you give witness testimony to the police, you have the option to recant your statement. However, the defendant may still be charged if the prosecutor has enough other evidence to support their case. You may also face criminal charges if the reason you are recanting your statement is that you lied to the police.
Can you go to jail for recanting a statement?
Lying to the police could result in you being charged with providing false information to a police officer or with obstruction of justice. Both these charges are misdemeanor offenses and can result in penalties of up to $1,000 in fines.
In short, yes. You may face jail time of up to six months for providing false information to a police officer or up to a year for obstruction of justice.
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Reasons a Witness Might Recant Their Statement
There are many reasons a witness may wish to recant their statement. In the majority of situations doing so will not result in criminal charges. Common reasons for recanting a statement made to police include:
- If a mistake was made by the person giving the statement to the police
- If a witness was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the statement
- If the police misunderstood what was said or made an error in recording it
- If the witness decided not to be involved in the case
- If the witness lied to the police
Sometimes witnesses will recant a statement because they have been intimidated by the defendant and are afraid for themselves or their loved ones.
Recanting Your Statement As a Defendant
When a defendant attempts to recant a statement doing so often has little effect on the outcome of the case. If a defendant confesses to the police, they may later wish to recant that confession. In most of these situations, the judge will likely rule that the original confession is still admissible as evidence of the defendant’s guilt.
However, the defendant can argue that their confession was coerced. There have been many recorded cases where police intimidation led innocent people to confess to crimes they did not commit.
Proving coercion can be very difficult. In attempting to get your original confession dismissed, your criminal defense lawyer will likely look into the history of the officers to whom you confessed. They will check to see if they have a history of violating proper police procedures.
Keep a Clear Head and Talk to a Lawyer
Having to recant a statement is never an ideal situation. It is always best to only make statements to the police that are true and with which you feel comfortable. If you are a suspect in a crime, it is always best to take advantage of your Miranda Rights and remain silent until you have a chance to speak with an attorney.
If giving a statement as a witness, it is always best to make sure you are clear-headed. If you have been drinking, or are under the influence of illegal or prescription drugs, it is always best to wait before you give a statement. That way, you can make sure your comments are accurate. Do not lie to the police.
If you don’t want to give a statement because you are worried about implicating someone, speak to a lawyer to ensure that you are not violating any laws. While you have the option to recant your statement, you will always be better served by not making a regrettable statement from the start.