When Should I Talk to the Police?

Citizens under criminal investigation always ask, ” When should I talk to the police?” People have a natural inclination to want to talk to the investigating detective in order to clear their name. The only correct answer to that question is ” When your lawyer tells you to talk to the police.”

Some individuals who are under investigation and feel that they have done nothing wrong and won’t even sit down and discuss their situation with a criminal attorney. They mistakenly believe that the very act of consulting with a criminal lawyer will be interpreted by law enforcement as a sign of guilt. Most experienced police investigators actually don’t hold against a suspect for consulting with an attorney. Believe me, if an officer comes under criminal investigation they immediately seek counsel with a criminal attorney.

The fact that an individual under investigation consults or hires a criminal attorney can’t be used as evidence in a criminal trial against the defendant. The courts recognize that citizens have a absolute right to legal representation and won’tallow a prosecutor to use that as evidence against them in a criminal trial.

In the end it is the criminal attorney who must make the decision whether a client should interview with law enforcement. That decision can only be made after the criminal attorney has had time to investigate the case and then decide what is in the client’s best interest.

Do the Police Always Have to Read Me My 5th Amendment Rights Before They Ask Questions?

New clients often ask this question. ” Does a police officer always have to read the Miranda Rights to you before he can ask you questions.” The short answer is no. Most folks believe that they walk around protected by the 5th amendment at all times. In reality the 5th amendment and it’s protections apply only in certain situations.

For the 5th amendment to apply the defendant must be in custody. He must be detained by the police and not free to leave. Whether a person is legally detained can be a fact question determined by a judge in a motion to suppress.

If a police officer is merely asking questions of a citizen on the street then all of the answers given can come into evidence at a trial. Since the defendant wasn’t under arrest at the time of questioning there is no requirement for the officer to read the defendant his Miranda Rights. Smart detectives will often conduct “soft” interviews on the street. They may come back several times for more interviews. Often times they get contradictory answers from the suspect which can be very damaging for the defendant at trial. That’s why it is always a good idea to talk to a criminal lawyer before you ever interview with the police.