Should I Talk to the Police? Myths vs. Reality
By: Dave Mueller, Criminal Defense Attorney
Few things turn your world upside down like when the phone rings, or a knock comes at the door and you hear those ominous words: “It’s the police. We would like to speak with you.” If you’re not used to dealing with law enforcement, the interaction can be one of high pressure and anxiety. Even if you have never been involved in criminal activity, the decisions you make in those moments can be critical. The choice of whether to speak to the police, or what to say if you do, is entirely yours. However, an attorney who specializes in criminal law can help you make that decision and help you avoid becoming a victim of some of these common myths:
Myth #1- If you Have Nothing to Hide, Why not Talk to the Police?
If the police want to talk to you, they usually have a reason. It may not always be clear what that reason is, they are not required to tell you the reason, and they are even allowed to mislead you. Before you agree to talk, it is always best to speak with a lawyer who specializes in criminal law. It may seem easier to “clear things up” by talking to the police right away, but only an experienced criminal attorney can anticipate how your statement today could impact you in many unexpected ways tomorrow. Remember: you and your attorney can always decide to share information with the police later, but nothing said today can ever be “unsaid.” Even if you have done nothing wrong, only a criminal attorney can help you decide how, if at all, to share that information with the authorities.
Myth #2: You Should Never Talk to the Police
It’s true that you have an absolute right to not talk to the police, and many times it is not wise to risk implicating yourself in a criminal investigation by talking to the police. However, there are times when providing the police with truthful information may be in your best interest. The only way to tell which applies to your situation is by talking to an experienced criminal attorney. Your attorney may communicate with the police on your behalf, review the available evidence, and help you come up with a plan as to how you should share information with the police, if at all. In doing so, time is usually of the essence, so it is best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Talking to the police is not always a mistake; talking to them without the help of an experienced attorney almost always is.
Myth #3- If You Ask to Speak to an Attorney First, it Will Make You Look Guilty
In the criminal justice system, the police don’t decide who is guilty; the courts and juries do. The police have the job of gathering evidence, and statements made to them during an investigation may well become part of that evidence in court. Your choice to speak to an attorney before speaking to the police is not evidence, and it cannot be used against you later in court. You always have a right to consult with an attorney before agreeing to speak with police. An experienced criminal attorney will help you deal with the police today in a way that does not become powerful evidence against you tomorrow.
Don’t Make the Decision Alone- Talk to a Criminal Lawyer!
The work that the police do in criminal investigations is very serious, and it is rarely like you see on television. The police are professionals with years of training. The only way to deal with them is with the help of a professional, experienced criminal attorney. Before making a snap decision that could cost you dearly in the future, contact us and speak with a criminal attorney today.