In prison, your right to privacy is sharply limited, even on the phone. In fact, you’ll probably see a sign warning that all of your phone calls are being recorded. You may even get a reminder message before you start to dial.
Take that warning seriously. Too many defendants end up paying the price when they don’t. Here are some things that you, your friends and your family members need to know about communicating by phone while you are in jail awaiting trial.
The prosecution will spend time listening to your calls.
There are probably thousands of phone calls or more that go out of any given jail every month. Maybe that’s why so many inmates gamble on the idea that the police won’t actually listen to their calls. They assume that the overburdened prosecutor’s office simply doesn’t have time.
That’s a big mistake. Prosecutors often obtain crucial evidence for their cases from inmate phone calls, so they will take the time to listen to every call.
The danger starts with your very first phone call.
It’s natural to be scared and somewhat disoriented right after an arrest. When the police finally let you have access to a phone call, most defendants will immediately call a family member or friend. At that point, the risk that the defendant will say something to damage his or her case is massive.
For example, imagine that you’re picked up for drunk driving. You call your mother and the first thing she asks is how much you drank. Answering that question at all could put your defense in serious jeopardy, because the prosecution will have you on tape admitting to driving under the influence.
You need to think carefully before you speak.
The only way to protect yourself from danger is to assume that everything you say will eventually end up in court. That means the only safe response to questions over the phone about your case from well-meaning friends and family members is something like, “I can’t discuss that.”
If you are facing criminal charges of any kind, whether from a drunk driving arrest, a drug charge or something else, don’t let a simple phone call sink your defense.