I’m going to preface this article with “your attorney probably knows best.” Generally, it is good practice to follow the advice of your legal counsel. That being said, you are the one that has to live with yourself at the end of the day.

When you are called to court, whatever the reason, I strongly advise that you be honest. Be honest with yourself, be honest with your lawyer, and be honest with the judge. If you did something wrong, you need to man up and take responsibility for that mistake. The consequences may not be pretty, but I can guarantee you they’ll be far less dire than if you happened to be caught in a lie (or series of lies).

Everything we do, we should do with honesty, dignity, and integrity. People make mistakes every day. Nobody expects perfection. Whether the crime you committed was intentional or not, admitting fault and genuinely apologizing for that mistake is admirable.

So this is me telling you: don’t lie. Don’t attempt to manipulate the justice system to justify your misdeeds. Some attorneys may advise you not to admit guilt, to “plead the fifth” on inquiries that may be incriminating, or to utilize tactics during your deposition or trial that are intended to mislead or misdirect the judge and/or opposing counsel.

This is disgusting. Pathetic. Underhanded. It’s probably the best way to gain massive loads of negative karma, if you believe in that kind of thing. Sure, you may save yourself some money and walk away clean as a whistle, but it’s not worth it.

What kind of person do you want to be known as? What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind you? An ethical lawyer will advise you against compromising your integrity and potentially putting yourself in a position where you could be proven guilty (and therefore, a gutless liar).

It’s often easier to admit fault, apologize, and show that you truly desire to rectify the wrong you committed.

Whether you illegally evicted a booth renter without understanding the landlord/tenant laws, stole money from your employer’s cash drawer, broke a legitimate contract, intentionally underpaid your staff, or took off your boot and smashed through the salon’s plate glass window during a heated argument with your boss–you need to do what is right and disregard what is “legal.”

What do I mean by that?
Legally the owner might not be able to prove the theft beyond a reasonable doubt.
Legally the staff weren’t “entitled” to anything over minimum wage.
Legally the owner was the only person in the salon, so you could argue that she broke the window since her testimony is legally hearsay.

It doesn’t mater what you can do “legally.” You need to do what is right.
…not because the owner might have installed security cameras you weren’t aware of.
…not because the salon staff might have copies of their employment contracts that clearly state the rate they were to be paid.
…and not because the landscapers outside the salon might have watched you break that window and might have agreed to testify against you in court.
Tell the truth not because you might get caught. Tell the truth because it’s the right thing to do.

You may have lost the moral high ground when you committed whatever crime you’re being accused of, but you can gain solid footing again by being apologetic and honest. You might even have (what you considered at the time to be) a good reason for doing whatever it was that you did.

Maybe you stole the money to put food in your kid’s mouth since your ex wasn’t sending support and you were too ashamed to ask for a pay advance.
Maybe you skimmed money off your employee’s checks to keep the salon afloat during a slow period that threatened to take the business under completely.
Maybe you threw the boot because that fight with your boss was just the perfect end to the most horrible day you’ve ever had in your entire life.

Whether your intentions were pure or not, save your dignity and keep your self-respect. Don’t lower yourself. You’re an adult. Please act like one. Take responsibility and take the consequences for your actions. We all (hopefully) have an innate sense of right and wrong. If something doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. Trust me on this: there is nothing more liberating than the sense of freedom and the serenity that comes with being honest and genuine. Being real feels good. I’ll conclude with saying that being honest can be difficult sometimes, but making a habit of it will make you a better, stronger, and certainly more respected person.

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