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Friday, May 14, 2010

Stupid Criminal Tricks

The reports about the Times Square bomber's incompetence reminded me of my many clients who have done similarly dumb things in their frantic attempts to foul up their lives ... and my chances of winning their cases.

Example: A client entered a McDonald's, ordered a Big Mac, removed a twenty from his wallet. When the register was opened, he pulled a gun, took a handful of cash and fled ... leaving his wallet on the counter. Later, while police were writing the info from the ID in the wallet, he returned, wishing to claim his lost wallet and was arrested.

Some conservatives have withheld acclaim for the capture of Shahzad because of his ineptitude which ably abetted his pursuers. What the critics igore is that his flaws are not rare. They are common among wrongdoers, whether from nerves, fear, or a self-destructive impulse (see introduction to Borenstein's Law for a more thorough explanation of the phenomenon).

It is this same trait that impels captured criminals to talk freely and willingly to authorities even after warned that "... anything you say may be used against you ..."

Example: In a recent case, a D.A. provides a CD to me with a twinkle in her eye. "You're gonna love this," she chuckles. I listened and chuckled (ironically).

It was a recording of a phone call made from the jail to my client's friend (who later became a co-defendant). My client's voice is clearly heard making a number of incriminating statements in a confidential tone, some whispered, some in street slang, but all clearly inculpating.

Periodically, he is heard to pause while a recorded voice interrupts his conversation with the following: "Warning: calls from the jail may be monitored for security reasons ...." After hearinjg each loud warning, my client simply continues his admission.

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