What Should I Do When Asked to Speak with the Police?
If the police are investigating a crime and you are asked to come to the police station to give a statement, it is, in all circumstances, advisable to decline their request until you are able to speak with a criminal defense attorney. There is virtually no advantage or benefit obtained, when compared with the tremendous risks of incrimination, by complying with such a request without benefit of first seeking legal counsel.
Whether out of a perceived sense of “looking guilty” or an expectation of leniency for cooperation, many people regrettably make statements to law enforcement officers, unwittingly putting themselves at great risk of criminal liability. Others, perhaps, believe that, because they are honest, sophisticated, or well-spoken, they should be able to somehow convince the police not to arrest or attempt to prosecute them. However, it is wholly unlikely that the police will be dissuaded from arresting someone whom they had originally intended to arrest. If you are requested to come in to speak with police, or are already in custody, the police believe, or strongly suspect, that you did something wrong. So, waiving your constitutional right to remain silent, or to seek legal counsel before speaking to them, is unlikely to provide any benefit to you and is not recommended.
Though, ostensibly, well-intentioned in their efforts to prosecute crimes, police are highly skilled in interrogation techniques and are often excessively aggressive in their efforts to obtain a statement or confession that they may use to build or reinforce their case against you. Even if you are innocent, statements you provide to law enforcement can be distorted or selectively extracted for pieces that will help them establish their case. They also often use dishonest (but lawful) tactics in their interrogations “to uncover truths” in pursuing their cases.
With regard to obtaining a “better deal” in the case, if a suspect cooperates with the police, this is a widespread misconception. The police do not have authority to make deals, grant immunity, or negotiate plea agreements. The only entity vested with such authority is the District Attorney or Attorney General in state court and the U.S. Attorney in federal court. Despite their claim that they are trying to help you, their true primary role is to secure a conviction – whether against you or someone else.
If you are facing potential criminal charges, it is advisable to obtain an attorney, who may act as an intermediary between you and the police or prosecution. Your counsel can get your story across and any information that is helpful to you, in such a way that it may not be used against you, such as through police testimony concerning any potentially incriminating statements you made, pertaining to the alleged crimes. In many cases, the defense attorney may be able to provide information from the client, other witnesses, and other evidence to the investigating officer or agent and convince them that a crime did not occur or that our client did not commit the crime alleged.
So for the foregoing reasons, if you are facing a criminal investigation, whether you are guilty or innocent, whether you are inclined to confess or desire to exonerate yourself, or whether you believe you are intelligent and articulate enough to handle a police interrogation, it is always advisable and prudent to avoid speaking with law enforcement officers before invoking your right to consult with an attorney and taking advantage of their guidance and counsel in navigating this difficult process.
The attorneys at Tanner Law Offices can assist you or your loved ones in communicating with law enforcement to ensure that you do not incriminate yourself or create problems for yourself. Please contact our office at 717-731-8114 to schedule a consultation to discuss your case.