Why you should never talk to the police without a lawyer
“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you saw can and will be used against you in a court of law.” These well-known words, most commonly uttered by police officers during an arrest, hold both power and a promise. Remaining silent is a right. You are not required to speak to the police and possibly incriminate yourself.
However, for many people, the fact that they don’t have to talk to the police doesn’t stop them from opening their mouth without a lawyer present. This can lead to many things, but it can lead to anything from a harsher punishment, all the way up the police extracting a confession from you for something you didn’t even do.
Before we get into the why, let’s cover some common reasons that the police might want to talk to you, especially if they can get you to talk without a lawyer present.
Reasons the Police Might Want to Talk to You
There are many reasons that the police might want to talk to you and being arrested is not the only one. In fact, if you get called in to talk to the police, and you have not been arrested, you have good reason to be wary, especially if they ask you to waive your right to an attorney. NEVER waive your right to an attorney! So, without further ado, here are some reasons you might be called into the police station.
You Are (or Are About to be) Charged with a Crime
This one is obvious. Sometimes, the police will ask you to come into the police station to “talk” and help with solving whatever case they are working on. Wanting to help, you agree. Sometimes, this really is the case, and they just want your help, but other times, they think they know you committed a crime, but don’t have the evidence to arrest you. In this case, they can employ many tactics to get you to confess to the crime they are investigating, and one the things they can do is ask you to waive your right to an attorney. If you do this, it opens the door to many other things that having a criminal defense attorney present would prevent.
You Are a Witness to a Crime
If you have witnessed a crime, it is likely that the police will want to talk to you to at least take your statement. If they want to talk to you after they have taken your statement, it is smart to be wary. They may just want clarification on something you said, but they may also believe that they have evidence that would make you not just a witness, but an accomplice or even the perpetrator of a crime.
You Have a Personal Relationship with the Victim or Perpetrator of a Crime
If you know the person who was the victim of a crime, and it is possible that you could have committed the crime, and the police don’t yet know who the perpetrator was, they could call you in for a chat. As with all other reasons for being called in – be on your guard. Police know that crimes are very often committed by those close to us. For instance, in the United States in 2020, 38% of all murders were committed by someone that the victim knew. That percentage includes the large number (52%) of murders for whom the police have not been able to identify the perpetrator. So, if you know the victim, be on your guard, and exercise your right to remain silent and your right to a criminal defense attorney.
If you know the perpetrator (and not the victim), the police may be looking for an accomplice. They may also just be trying to create a profile for the perpetrator. As always, be careful, and don’t hesitate to request a lawyer at any time, before or during your interview.
The Police can Lie. You Cannot
One of the things to keep in mind, no matter the reason you are in the police station, is that the police are allowed to lie to you. However, if you lie to them, you have broken the law, and the legal consequences can be severe. Do not lie to the police. It is far better to keep your mouth shut and invoke your right to an attorney. It is always a good idea to have an experienced criminal defense attorney present, even if you feel that the police have no reason to suspect you of committing a crime.
Police can use any tactic (short of actual torture or other inhumane tactics) to extract a confession from you, even if you are not under arrest. A common tactic is the lie that if you confess to the crime to them, then the judge will be more lenient. That is not true, and the police have absolutely no pull with judge when it comes to sentencing. They cannot promise leniency. Another common deceptive tactic the police can use is that someone else close to you has already confessed and implicated you, even if they haven’t even talked to that person yet.
Don’t Waive Your Right to a Criminal Defense Attorney
We’ve said it several times so far, but it is never a good idea to waive your right to an attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney knows when the police are trying to get a confession or other admission of involvement, and can play referee, keeping the police in check, and helping you know when you should and should not answer their questions. This can make or break you case if the police decide to charge you with a crime.
If you are charged with a crime, and you have successfully exercised your right to both silence and an attorney, the burden of proof remains with the police, and it is much heavier when they have no self-incriminating evidence from you.
Call an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested or have been called into the police station to discuss anything related to a crime that has been committed, it is a good idea to have an attorney in your corner. Our attorney, Chris Bugbee is an experienced criminal defense attorney, and started out as a prosecutor, so he knows how the prosecutions and the police think and can use that knowledge to your benefit. We are available 24/7/365. Give us a call today!
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
© 2016 Bugbee Law Offices, P.S.