Honesty Maybe Not The Best Policy If It Involves You And A 14-Year-Old

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In June, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that a 23-year-old driver who had been pulled over for failing to use his blinker was arrested after volunteering the fact that, in addition to not being so good with turn signals, he had also had sex with a 14-year-old girl.

I sometimes remind people that they should resist the urge to be helpful during a traffic stop, because questions like "do you know how fast you were going?" are not asked out of idle curiosity.  Similarly, you might also want to stop and think before blurting out the details of any other crimes you may have committed.  "Have you been drinking tonight, sir?"  "No, but I sure hope you don't do any digging in my basement!  Oh, did I say that out loud?  Just kidding.  I did have sex with a 14-year-old, though."

According to the Tribune, the driver was stopped at about 2:40 a.m. for the aforementioned blinker problems.  The officer noticed three girls riding in the vehicle and asked the driver why he was with them. This is the point at which the "stop and think" advice comes into play, because there are several ways one could go here.

  • Say nothing.  Often the best response, from a legal-defense standpoint, is no response.
  • Say something true, or at least believable.  For example, the response, "I was leading the discussion at a book club meeting discussing Atlas Shrugged, and I guess we just lost track of time," will get you detained whether it's true or not.  Also, it isn't true.
  • Blurt out something incriminating.  It's your decision, but as your lawyer I would advise one of the other options.

Utah: Where the Age of Consent Is . . . Well, It Depends For whatever reason (possibly he immediately cracked under questioning or has a particularly unfortunate form of Tourette's syndrome), this man chose option number three.  According to the arresting officer, the man responded by saying he had had relations with one of the girls four days before.  He said he thought she was 16, which I thought was a comically bad defense until I remembered this happened in Utah, which, it turns out, has some suspiciously complicated laws in this area.  I frankly did not want to spend a lot of time reading them, but at a glance it appeared that the man might have had a point.  Except that she was not in fact 16, so he didn't.

According to the report, the man also volunteered the fact that he happened to have some incriminating pictures on his cell phone.  Just trying to speed things along, officer.

Link:  Salt Lake Tribune