Am I obligated to go to the police station after they've called me and I agreed to go down for questioning/statement?

Asked about 2 years ago - San Jose, CA

I received a phone call from SJPD asking me to go into the station for questioning. The detective refused to tell me what it was about over the phone, but I have a good idea why they want to speak to me. I do not want to say anything to incriminate myself, so I would like a lawyer present. However, I cannot afford an attorney and due to the timing --right before the Thanksgiving holiday--I could not get in contact with the Public Defender's office. I also tried calling the Santa Clara County Bar Association for assistance. Will the Public Defender's office help me at this stage? There is no warrant for my arrest. Or, should I stick with the Bar Association for legal counsel? Also, would I be even more suspicious when I call the detective to cancel my appointment?

Additional information

Mr.Bogan, I thank you for your patronizing and condescending advice. If you please re-read my post, I indicated that I am unable to afford an attorney (for reasons that are none of your business) and therefore would like to speak to someone from the local Public Defender's office and/or the Bar Association. You are absolutely correct in pointing out that the Thanksgiving holiday does not and should not prevent me from hiring an attorney. But, my finances certainly do.
My sincere thanks to the individuals on this forum who have been kind with their time and thoughtful with their responses.

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Chris J Feasel

    Contributor Level 17

    14

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No. The public defender wont get involved until a case is filed. You would have to hire an attorney. No you aren't under any obligation to meet with them, so don't. The less you say the better. If they file a a case against you, consult with an attorney then.

    Mr. Feasel is a former prosecutor in San Mateo County (CA) with over 10 years of criminal law experience. Nothing... more
  2. John M. Kaman

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    13

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You do not need to keep any appointment you have made with the police for questioning. These "informational" meetings are always deceptively arranged to set you up. Keep your mouth shut. If you get arrested or charged ask for the public defender. Under no circumstances should you make voluntary statements to the police.

  3. Tai Christopher Bogan

    Pro

    Contributor Level 18

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Why does Thanksgiving prevent you from hiring an attorney? Are you going out on black friday to spend all of your money on presents for people?

    You should re-evaluate your priorities. Speaking to the police is never helpful. Cops twist up words and will try to trick you into making false admissions. Your only hope is to have an attorney.

    Instead of spending your money at the local Wally World for Xmas - you should hire an attorney.

    The above information does not establish an attorney client relationship nor is it meant to provide legal advice.
  4. Frank Mascagni III

    Contributor Level 20

    11

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You need to consult with a criminal defense attorney in your area ASAP. Do not go to talk to the police without counsel present. Have them contact the police, cancel the meeting and reschedule (if at all) AFTER talking with an attorney.

    I am trying to give you a general answer to your question. We do not have an attorney-client relationship by this... more
  5. Brian K Wanerman

    Contributor Level 18

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . No. You are under absolutely no obligation to talk to the police. And, you should not do so. If the police question you, say "I want to speak to an attorney. I refuse to answer any questions without an attorney present." If the police pester you or say/imply that you must answer, ask if you are under arrest. If they say no, say that you would like to leave. if they refuse to let you, repeat I want to speak to an attorney. I refuse to answer any questions without an attorney present."

    Although the public defender may not get involved until you get arrested, most private criminal defense attorneys will give you a free initial consultation. Feel free to contact my office if you would like one.

  6. Dale Martin Savage

    Contributor Level 14

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . You cannot be compelled to talk to the police and they cannot punish you for refusing to do so as it is a constitutional right. A PD is not going to get involved in your particular case b/c you are not charged w/an offense at the moment so you would not even qualify for screening purposes. This does not mean that the police cannot and will not charge you with a crime.

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