One of the first things I tell clients and potential clients is not to talk to the police. The second thing I tell clients is not to talk to anyone who is not your lawyer about the facts of your case. Tiger Woods violated the second rule when he issued a statement following his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. Tiger stated,
“I understand the severity of what I did and I take full responsibility for my actions. I want the public to know that alcohol was not involved. What happened was an unexpected reaction to prescribed medications. I didn’t realize the mix of medications affected me so strongly . . .“
Why – why – why? Why would his lawyer or publicist allow him to make that statement? Why didn’t anyone advise Tiger to exercise his fundamental right to be silent and hold the State of Florida to its burden of proof at trial?
Tiger’s statement if he decided that he wanted to go to trial can now be offered against him as an admission by a party opponent. If Tiger were to take the stand at trial and profess his innocence the State would then be able to impeach him with his prior inconsistent statement.
I had the opportunity to speak with some colleagues of mine and we all agreed that this was a pretty weak case for the State. My understanding of the facts are that Tiger was prescribed his medication. Which means that the State does not have the presumption that Tiger was driving under the influence of a controlled substance because he blew a .000. Instead the State would have to prove through other evidence that he was impaired.
I have no doubt that Tiger meant well when he made that statement to the public. He was probably thinking about his brand and his sponsors. I hope Tiger or anyone reading this follows two simple rules 1) Do not talk to the police they are not your friend and you cannot talk your way out of handcuffs 2) Do not talk to anyone who is not your lawyer about you case.
Houson R. Lafrance
If you’re in Miami-Dade, Broward, or Palm Beach County and you have a legal issue give me a call at 954-982-2124 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.