Last week, Tiger Woods apologized to the world.
Of more importance is what he did not say at the time of the incident.
Amid the initial media reports swirling around at the time of the automobile accident, the most striking thing is the on-target advice Tiger Woods must have received and followed right after the incident - namely his refusal to speak to the police about the accident. All too often, people with nothing to hide make the irreversible mistake of talking to the police. Fortunately for Tiger, he did not making this mistake.
Even if you are not as famous as Tiger Woods, there is nothing quite like the experience of law enforcement intensely scrutinizing your conduct. Even if you did nothing wrong, there is no guarantee that law enforcement will agree.
Media reports indicated that Tiger Woods complied with the legal requirement of providing his license, registration, and proof of insurance. He was not, however, required to make a statement or provide his side of the story.
Declining law enforcement's offer to make a statement may have prompted additional speculation about the accident at the time. People certainly wondered, "If Tiger Woods does not have anything to hide, why wouldn't he speak with the police?"
However, the better question is "why should Tiger Woods have spoken with the police? What did he have to gain from doing so?" The answer is simple, "nothing!" There is nothing Tiger Woods could have said in the days following the accident that would have helped him in the long-run. The temptation and pressure to provide an official statement to the police must have been overwhelming. However, Tiger Woods demonstrated the character and mental toughness that undoubtedly has contributed to his professional success.
From Tiger's approach to this difficult situation, we should all learn a valuable lesson - unless you are legally required to do so by a court order, do not speak with the police if there is any possibility that your conduct will become the focus of their investigation. No exceptions.
And, if you ever find yourself in such a situation, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately.