Throughout the years, there have been two types of calls I have received once a potential defendant has been contacted by a police officer or believe that charges are coming. The answer to the question: “What do I do when the police want to talk to me?” Is “Lawyer Up.” Call us BEFORE you call the police.
- The first conversation (which, unfortunately, is the much more common) goes something like this: “the police left a card on my door so I called them back.”
- Or, “My girlfriend, mother, friend, and/or brother saw my picture on PennLive so I called the police to figure this out.”
DO NOT CALL THE POLICE BEFORE YOU CONSULT AN ATTORNEY.
I have literally seen people call the police on themselves. They talk their way into trouble, not out. Lawyer Up
Officers go through countless hours of training. A large part of that training is focused on investigation and tools to use to get people to incriminate themselves. You will hear from a cop, “You’re not a bad guy. I understand things happen,” then they will invite you to write down specifically how you stole the missing property.
Or they tell you the conversation is “off the record.” That is a lie. Everything is on the record. Everything counts.
Sometimes they might say “The only way I can help you is if you tell me what I know happened.” Again, if they know it, then the only thing they will do is arrest you. You cannot talk your way out of trouble. Don’t try.
Let me make this clear. The police are not doing this to be your friend. They are investigating a crime. They are trying to gather evidence to either file charges against you or ensure they have an air tight case to convict you.
The Fifth Amendment to the Constitution protects you from the government compelling you to incriminate yourself. What does that mean in the real world?
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO TALK TO THE POLICE.
There is no law that forces you to answer their questions. I am not saying you should slam the door on an officer’s face or flee. You should be respectful, but steadfast in what you are doing.
“I respectfully decline to answer any of your questions without my attorney present.”
That is your answer. Then call me immediately.
The second conversation (which is much less common, but puts a huge smile on the face of every attorney) goes, “I saw my face on PennLive, Jason what should I do?” Or “the police left a voicemail for me, before calling them back I wanted to get some advice.”
These folks get an A+ for thinking. They have already done the first thing right: gave the police nothing. I speak to the police for you. If there is a meeting, I am there to protect you and your rights. If my client gives a statement to the police, it will be with immunity in writing.
Charges get filed every day. Whether you speak with the police or not, it is still likely they are going to file charges if they believe you committed a crime. Neither of these things equate to the Commonwealth being able to prove your guilt.
As you can read from the beginning of this post, the first conversation is much more common than the second. That is not to say if you have already spoken to the police you have no defense. I want everyone in this situation to follow example set forth in the second conversation; however, reality and experience says that will not happen.
So, if you have spoken with the police already, still I urge you, STOP TALKING TO THEM AND CALL ME. You need someone on your side, protecting you. No matter how friendly or how nice of an officer they seem, their job is to build a case against YOU. My job is to defend YOU.
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