Response to Police Questioning

Posted over 4 years ago. Applies to California, 5 helpful votes

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1

Lawyer Up

If the police are looking for you, immediately contact an attorney who will do pre-arrest representation. It's stressful when you know the police are looking for you but it doesn't have to be because for a reasonable fee an attorney will contact the police and tell them that you are not going to give a statement without them being present. If they question you after that, they might not be able to use your statements against you. The police will often back off once they know you have retained an attorney to represent you. If the police want to arrest you, your attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in to the jail and can help you set up bail. This will relieve you of a lot of stress. If you can't afford an attorney, don't talk to the police.

2

Don't Talk

If the police contact you, tell them you will not give a statement without your attorney present, than keep quiet. It's critical that you immediately contact a lawyer to protect you from being wrongfully accused of a crime. You do not have to talk to the police so don't. Police want to talk to you because they think you are a suspect or a witness to a crime. Unfortunately, witnesses often become suspects by talking to the police. The police need evidence to arrest you and the prosecutor needs evidence to convict you. If the police don't have enough evidence to arrest you, they try to get you to give a statement. They don't even need a confession if they can connect you to the crime. If you acknowledge that you've been to the crime location, you know the victim, you are connected to crime evidence, and you don't have an alibi, it can give them enough circumstantial evidence to arrest you. Without your statement, the police may not have had enough evidence to arrest

3

What You Say Will Be Used Against You

The police can lie and use pressure to get you to talk. Officer demeanor starts out nice, they will tell you that they are only trying to help you or that you are not a suspect. If nice doesn't work, they will pressure you by telling you that they have evidence and witnesses against you and that you'll get in more trouble by not cooperating. Don't fall for it. Police want to talk to you so they can use your own statements against you. Don't think you can talk your way out of trouble, you can't. Police are experts at getting confessions and everything you say will be construed against you in the police reports and taken out of context. Police reports are used by the district attorney to prosecute you, so they never contain statements that help you only statements that hurt you. If you never give a statement, then the police can't say you said things you never said. Since in court it's your word against the police officer's word, the jury usually believes the police officer.

4

If You Are Charged, You Need An Attorney

If you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney. Both misdemeanors and felonies have the potential for jail time and probation. Misdemeanors are generally regarded as less serious crimes, but nevertheless require an aggressive defense as they carry a potential jail sentence of up to 1 year in county jail. Felonies are the most serious category of crimes that which carry a potential county jail or state prison sentence. It is essential that you understand the seriousness of the charges, the consequences, and the possible defenses to the charges. It is unlikely that the average person could represent himself or herself effectively in court against an experienced prosecutor. If you choose to represent yourself, you are on an uneven playing field and at a disadvantage. That is why you need your own attorney.

5

Witnesses Don't Have To Talk To Police

Witnesses do not have to talk to the police unless they are subpoenaed to court. Police will often contact family members or friends of an accused to try to get a statement regarding a suspect's connection to a crime. You cannot tell someone they can't talk to the police because it's a crime to dissuade a witness. However, a citizen doesn't have to talk to the police. They can simply tell the police that they are not going to give a statement unless they are subpoenaed to court. This usually will stop the police from trying to get a statement from them. This is especially important in domestic violence cases.

6

Innocent People Need Attorney's

Saying you didn't do it usually won't get the charges dropped. There are hundreds of people who have been convicted and put into prison who were wrongfully accused. To date, the Innocence Project has freed 220 people because DNA showed they were innocent. Not all juries get things right, and the consequences can be tragic. A trial is not about what actually happened but what the jury believes happened. The best way to avoid such an unjust result is to immediately contact the best criminal defense attorney available. Skilled and knowledgeable defense lawyers know the criminal justice system and can navigate through the complex procedures to ensure the fairest possible conclusion. A defendant should never believe that because he or she is innocent and has nothing to hide there is no need for legal representation.

Additional Resources

The Tiemann Law Firm

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