Legal Issues

Legal Tip: Carry, or Don’t Carry, a ‘Statement Card’?

A membership in Texas Law Shield is like insurance against the worst that could happen.

In the U.S. Law Shield and Texas Law Shield Forums, a member asked the lawyers: Q: Would you carry this statement card with you and hand it to the police, or could it be interpreted as premeditation? Original card developed from a presentation given by Massad Ayoob. Statement Card to Police

  • That man attacked me.
  • I was afraid of great bodily harm including death.
  • I am innocent.
  • I will sign a complaint.
  • The evidence is there.
  • The witnesses (if any) are there.
  • You may have my full cooperation, after I have spoken with my attorney.
  • I have nothing further to say at this time.

An article in the Feb/March 2014 Concealed Carry magazine by K.L. Jamison, Esq. titled “The First Statement to Police ‘Goldilocks Dilemma,'” prompted this question.

I called my attorney here in Denver to ask him, and he said if the prosecutor ever found out I had contacted him before an incident, which I was doing at that moment, it could be interpreted as premeditation. So, I suspect me posing this question here might have the same interpretation. Seems as if having U.S. Law Shield protection could have the same consequence; yes, no? I am simply trying to proactively protect myself.

I think the reasoning behind the card idea is that in the “heat of the moment,” one is not thinking clearly and may not be able to remember all that needs to be said, and/or say too much. Is a person expected to remember all they need to at such a time? Most research suggests that is never going to be reality.

I think police involved in any shooting incident are instructed to not make any statement for three days, and of course they are interacting with folks who have their backs right from the start. We are NOT so lucky! Having the U.S. Law Shield program might be interpreted as preemptive premeditation. Seems using a weapon in self-defense is a “crap shoot” as far as what the outcome may be. — John Law Shield responds: Great question. Having pre-printed cards to that effect do seem a little premeditated, in that each factual situation is different. These are certainly good and accurate things to say, but having them pre-printed on a card seems a little over the top. Additionally, the invocation of your rights should be made verbally in the case of an incident.

A motivated DA will attempt to use anything and everything against a defendant. It is the lawyer’s job to mitigate that as irrelevant. We believe it is certainly not any form of premeditation to consult an attorney generally concerning what the legal process is or what it may entail.

While the statement card sure sounds convenient, a simple statement such as the example you provided, is not going to be appropriate for every situation.

The most important thing to remember is that you have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and to speak with counsel prior to any police interviews. If you are not in a state to recall details, we recommend that you call the TLS emergency hotline or your attorney. An attorney will be able to walk you through what to say, and more importantly, what NOT to say when the police are on the scene.

If you want to ask a question of the U.S. Law Shield or Texas Law Shield lawyers, contact U.S. Law Shield or Texas Law Shield lawyers or post your question in our comment section.

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Comments (30)

  1. I’ve had three occasions where I had to draw my weapon against someone threatening me. Fortunately, on all three the mere presence of a firearm ended the threat without shooting anyone, an outcome that statistics show is far more likely. Each time, though, I went over (and over and over) in my mind what I would do if I had had to fire my weapon. I carry my CC permit right next to my DL for a reason. In my case, two of the incidents involved perps armed with knives, and the 3rd, a road rage incident, where the guy was coming at me with a tire iron. All three were before the era of cell phones, and, although there were no witnesses in the first two, there were plenty of witnesses in the road rage incident. It seems to me that what you say to an investigating LEO depends on the circumstances; if there are witnesses; if you are the one who called 911; if the perp is laying on the ground with a weapon in or near his hand; if the perp succeeded in injuring you before you shot him. If an investigating LEO get aggressive with questioning, and you can remain calm enough to think about it, asking him what his rights and responsibilities are following a shooting incident, and then asking him to afford you the same might be a reasonable course of action. If they get physically aggressive, throw you on the ground and handcuff you, then I think the invoking the 5th and requesting an attorney is an excellent choice.

  2. As a Criminal Attorney I can not agree more that you should not be carrying a statement card.

    The best advice you will ever receive is that you have the right to remain silent and that you have the right to an attorney. It is untrue that you look guilty if you ask for a lawyer.

    As long as you make it clear that you are asserting self-defense and that you will fully cooperate once your lawyer arrives, nothing in your response can effectively be used against you.

    Remember in Florida! There is a lot that is unclear about concealed carry in the State of Florida. Remember if you are caught committing another crime and you happen to possess a concealed firearm at the time, even if it is not part of the crime, you face a ten year mandatory minimum for having had that gun. If you are carrying anything illegal, including a small amount of drugs, this law will apply, it applies to all felonies.

    I am an criminal defense attorney in the State of Florida, specifically in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties (although I will go anywhere the cases are in the State). If you have any questions about self defense carry in the State of Florida please do not hesitate to contact me at JHS@SheskinLaw.com. If for any reason you have to use your weapon feel free to call me to respond to the situation and defend you immediately at 786-529-0420.

    1. Joshua,

      As an attorney, I suggest that you should give out business cards printed with your contact info on the front, and the following statement on the back:

      “You may have my full cooperation after I have spoken with my attorney. I have nothing further to say at this time. Please contact the attorney listed on the front of this card, and inform him that I am being held in your custody and requesting his presence.”

      This doesn’t mention anything about shooting. It has no “premeditation” effect in the statement. It cannot be construed as anything but a business card that someone had in their wallet for a constitutional attorney.

    2. LOL! You go anywhere for a case? Must be desperate since Florida is like Texas and NY with millions of attorneys. And Texas is going open carry so there will definitely be less crime as these would be robbers will think twice when they enter a store and see 10 people holstering large caliber handguns to there squirt guns. Texas law and Florida law have no similarities. IMO

  3. I am so disappointed that our society has evolved to a point where I distrust unscrupulous police and prosecutors almost as much as I distrust lawbreakers that I must insure myself against them. I am confident that most police and prosecutors are trustworthy and reliable but the news is replete with examples of the exceptions.

  4. ALSO have Plenty of Insurance for Self Defense when using a Firearm. I have it now and I’m going to double it ASAP. I’m currently in a “Castel Doctrine” State and the doctrine extends to your property line. My mother told me that “dead men can tell no tales”, so Center Mass, then walk’em up to the Head.

    1. Please delete this comment for your protection. If an event does arise you have to defend yourself. The investigation may and probably will find its way back to this post. Pure premeditation at its finest

  5. just a quick comment from an LE, If you are going to plead the 5th, you must invoke it verbally “I choose to remain silent.” just remaining silent does not cut it. The police can continue to question you until you actively assert your rights. This comes from fairly recent case law.

    1. and make sure you verbally state early, “I want my attorney now”. Do NOT consider at any point that you have a reasonable expectation of privacy until you are in the presence of your attorney and no one else. A third party present can negate the attorney client privilege.

      Twenty plus years in law enforcement and I hated the 5th Amendment. We were mandated to advise a suspect of it point by point, and all to often the investigation was immediately shut down because the suspect invoked.

      At the same time, if there was any chance you became a suspect, you were thankful to have it.

  6. How about you just don’t talk to the police at all? The 5th is there for a reason. If you are talking to the police after shooting someone, you have already used the 2nd, why not the 5th? Plenty of time later to tell your side. I don’t want to post a link here, but go to utube and look up “don’t talk to the police” by a guy called russr.

  7. A key point brought up is the ‘pre-Miranda information period in the questioning. This time could be used to give police vital information for their protection (was anyone else involved), and then at the warning go with a tightly controlled response.

  8. Just my opinion; Since every situation is different, and every LEO and DA are different, I don’t think there will ever be a single correct answer to this question. Were there more than one attacker? Can you describe them? How many of them did you fire at? How many of them do you feel or know you hit? Direction they fled? As I sit here in my study I’d like to think I’d be able to handle the situation by being vague. I’m not sure, but…. I think I … I think he (or they) ….

    Are others still in danger from someone who fled? Is there anything that the police need to know immediately that affects public safety? Is one of the attackers trying to blend in with the crowd of on-lookers?

    I’ve taken the classes, become a member of Texas Law Shield, and the USCCA, but have yet to send in my paperwork for my CCL. It’s not that I’m not comfortable around guns, I’m a veteran. What I’m not comfortable with is the Monday Morning Quarterbacks that will be scrutinizing each and every moment and action taken. Couldn’t applying for a CCL be considered pre-meditation? Loading your gun? Concealing it on your person? Let’s face it, there is an awful lot of stupid out there, and I don’t want my fate decided by 12 sheeple. Because it is in my nature and training to run towards trouble, not away from it. I will always choose to put myself in harms way to aid my fellow man. And at least on the range, I know I’m a better shot than most LEOs I know. So I know I won’t hesitate. And that’s why I’ve yet to get my CCL.

    It’s only fair to note that I have and still carry on rare occasions when I know I will unavoidably be placing myself in hostile territory. But in those situations I wouldn’t be dialing 911 or sticking around afterwards.

    I’m interested in the legal opinions and comments on how others seemingly get to arbitrarily honor someone’s rights or not.

    1. In this age of selective enforcement and a Federal AT that will not enforce any politically incorrect laws, it’s best to take the 5th and say NOTHING. A great lawyer will take care of those details later. Behave like a cop, say nothing for 3 days to anyone except your attorney. LEO’s are not looking out for you, you must do that yourself.

    2. I don’t know where this idea of a “cop” not saying anything for 3 days comes from. In Police shootings the officers give their statements immediately (if you call a 3-4 hour process immediate). As I said pre-notice of rights cannot be used (with a few specific exceptions). This applies to everyone, police officers even lawyers. Again, just my non-lawyer opinion but coming from some personal experience.

    3. A principle I follow whenever possible is: if there’s someplace I wouldn’t go without a gun, I won;t go there with a gun.

  9. The thing that bothers me is that we have to go through this at all. Why is a person who defended himself subject to such aggressive interrogation and possible arrest? Why do we even have CC laws if they are going to subject the participant to arrest? In addition, the person bought the firearm for protection, now, the police will take it from him, leaving him/her defenseless against retaliation from friends/family of the assailant. Really?
    Our laws need to be fixed. The police know who you are, where you live, and the very weapon involved. Why not just take the info, let you go and wait for the DA or Grand Jury if it gets that far to act? Unless you are a know criminal there is no reason to treat you as anything other than a victim, and we generally do not arrest the victim, we send the home.

  10. I understand how a pre-printed card with that information “could” sound pre-meditated. However, what about something less specific, such as:
    Considering you’d probably be in some form of shock, and considering the Police are going to ask for your ID right up front – you could have a card that reads: I have a CC permit, for my personal protection, and although I wish to never have to use it with lethal consequences I knew that someday if might happen, therefore, this card was made in the event I am shaken and unable to think clearly after having to use my right of self defense. I have the right to remain silent and to consult with an attorney prior to any questioning. I respectfully decline any questions other than personal identification.

  11. Determining premeditation can always be carried to extremes (of course, extremes are the norm for some DA’s). Did you buy a gun? Did you get training in its use? Did you read M.A.’s book “In the Gravest Extreme”? Did you get a CCW? Did you sign up with TLS? Did you patiently stalk the victim? Did you practice on innocent passerby before committing to the actual target? Did you write up a letter of intent? Did you submit a video to the local news station announcing your intentions? Etc.

    Hopefully, when it goes to court, a jury of your peers will exonerate you and the loss of all your assets, the stress in your marriage/family, loss of job, and shunning by the community will have been worthwhile.

    Are we screwed or what?

  12. As a retired officer just remember as you ” lawyer up” if you leave the police without enough information to justify your use of deadly force, your conversation with the lawyer will be from a jail cell. Everybody has rights but sometimes a simple explanation of what actions led to your feeling that your life was in danger gets you home that night..

    1. Can you tell me that ALL your brother officers are that clear thinking? The fact that you read this article makes me bet you’re one of the good guys.

    2. Better to spend a night or two in jail, than the rest of your life. You should say as little as possible.

      However, it is important for your future that the police gather all the necessary evidence. Be sure they know you were the innocent victim of a violent attack, where they will find the evidence they need to help prove that, who are the witnesses, etc. For example, if the bad guy ran a bit after you shot him, and threw his gun into a dumpster, then make sure the police know that they need to look for the gun and where they will probably find it.

  13. This is such a controversial question. When the police arrive on the scene, they need certain basic information as to what happened so they know what action to take. Are there other perpetrators or witnesses they should be looking for, etc. DaveP326 brought up “Miranda Warning”. Conversely anything you said before the police advised you of your rights cannot be used (with a few specific exceptions). If/when you are advised of your rights “lawyer up” for sure. Just my non-lawyer opinion but coming from some personal experience.

    1. The theory of anything you say BEFORE you are Mirandized cannot be held against you is wrong. Anything said before your rights are read to you is considered a VOLUNTARY statement and WILL be used against you. Give your ID, if there are any other perps or witnesses and ask for your lawyer then shut your mouth. This from 16 years of LE

  14. I’ve been told that the best thing to do is refuse to say anything until you have a lawyer. Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if it would keep it’s mouth shut.

  15. I think the lawyer is wrong about premeditation, but be that as it may, ANYBODY who opts to carry a gun should know what he /she must say to the police before they ever leave their homes. The time to think about these things is beforehand. Just remember the “Miranda Warning”- 1. You have the right to remain silent. 2. Anything you say will be used against you. 3. you have the right to an attorney. 3. If you choose to speak to the police, you have the right to stop at any time, and to have an attorney present. So- After you show the police your license and surrender you weapon, be very polite but do not give any other info except what is on your driver license. Verbalize that you DO want a lawyer. Do not even make small talk. You want a lawyer-period. People have a tendency to say too much and that get them in trouble because of #2 above.

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