Tips for Talking to the Police when a Crime is Being Investigated
Many if not most people believe they will be better off if they explain their side of the story to the police. It is a common misconception that innocent people don't need lawyers. "If I don't talk to the police. . If I tell them to talk to my lawyer, they'll think I'm guilty." Not true.
Questions, Questions and More Questions.Whether you receive a phone call or voicemail from a detective, or whether you are confronted in person, at your home or in your car, remember, "anything you say can be used against you". The police have a job and their seemingly friendly questions aren't so they can get to know you. They are asking questions to build a case against you. That's not to say they are trying to frame you, simply put, they are looking for information and without knowing the law, it is very easy to provide information that helps to build their case from nothing, or to build a strong case from a weak one. If you can, let the call go to voicemail, then contact an attorney who can handle the situation. More likely, you'll be caught off guard, answering the door or phone call. No one wants to hang up on a police officer. There is a reason why criminals are so hard to reach, why they have white noise or silence where most people have voicemail greetings. They know that words, explanations, even a name can be just what a detective needs to further a hunch. Refusing to answer questions does not make you a criminal and it doesn't cause the police to jump to the conclusion that you "did it". A seasoned detective knows that educated citizens lawyer up. Better safe than sorry.
How to: Avoid Incrimination Without Irritating the Police.Depending on the situation, being polite can go a long way. That's not to say you can stop mid swing, and tell an officer, "I'm sorry I attacked you, " "I'm ready for that lawyer now." You'll still likely still end up in the hospital, cuffed to a bed. But in a situation such as on OUI or DUI stop, it is Never Ever in your interest to explain things. " I simply had two beers." Even if true and you are stone cold sober, that statement will ring through the jury's ears when the case finally goes to trial. It has a lot more weight when it comes from your own mouth. In other situations, where the police officer has not directly witnessed any conduct but is simply acting on a statement or accusation, it is even more important not to say anything. Almost no good . can come from participating in a conversation with the police. They are highly trained and what feels like a friendly conversation is more likely than not an evidence fishing expedition.
Start or end your statements with the word Sir, or Officer, and above all, be respectful. No one has ever been arrested north of the Mason Dixon line for being too polite. If they arrest you, anyway, there was nothing you could do anyway and at least you didn't throw gasoline on the fire with more information they can eventually use against you.
Remember, not all Interrogations happen at the police station. Often the most fruitful interrogation sessions occur when the target doesn't even know he or she is being interrogated. Polite conversation and cordial questions hold up in court just as if you'd been Mirandized and questioned at the station.
Be polite. Be respectful and be wary. Contact a lawyer at the first sign of trouble.