Most people look to hire a lawyer after they have been arrested and charged with a crime.
But if you are being investigated for a crime, having a lawyer can sometimes prevent you from ever being charged with a crime at all.
This can happen in situations where police are conducting an investigation into a possible crime. I regularly get calls from people when the police are investigating charges like hit and run, OUI, theft, or other charges.
The police will often call you or stop by your home if they get a call from a witness who wrote down a license plate, they claim was involved in a crime, and you are the owner of the vehicle suspected of being involved.
It can also happen if you are known to the police, perhaps from a prior offense or complaint report, and they are investigating similar or related crimes. I’ve had this happen with clients involved in some sex offense cases.
What Should I Do If the Police Want to Talk to Me?
I recommend that you should not speak to the police on any criminal investigation all without an attorney.
Remember, you are never obligated to talk to the police. But they may keep calling if they want to question you, for whatever reason.
They can come to your home, or your work and the continuous requests and contacts they make can be quite threatening and intimidating. They are calling to you gather evidence for a case, very possibly against you.
But what if the police are threatening me with MORE charges if I don’t talk?
They do that sometimes. And it is legitimately scary.
You still shouldn’t talk to them.
I had a client who was being accused of leaving the scene of an accident. The officer left a message that said: “If you don’t talk to me, I will have to also charge you with malicious destruction of property for damage caused in the accident.”
This is almost certainly a bluff and a tactic.
I can completely understand why ignoring the police and hoping the extra charge doesn’t happen sounds like a terrible legal strategy. But in some cases, that’s exactly the best plan if you’ve got a lawyer representing you.
Most of the time, they are threatening you because they don’t have enough to charge you with, and that’s the easiest way for them to gather evidence. Don’t help them.
In drug cases, there are also situations where the police may be trying to threaten you into becoming a drug informant. That can be dangerous, and is also very often not in your best interest.
It’s Simple. Do Not Agree to Talk To Police Without a Lawyer.
Just don’t. If they call you, don’t call them back.
If you accidentally pick up the phone or answer the door, and the police are there just say firmly and calmly, “I Do Not Wish To Speak To You Without My Lawyer Present.” End of conversation. Hang up or close the door.
If you get in a conversation, or any back and forth at all, you are at tremendous risk of saying something incriminating.
And some people simply can’t help themselves from confessing. It is understandable. Police are trained at getting people to admit things that are against their interest.
But no matter what you say, anything could be misconstrued, misinterpreted, or otherwise used against you. There is no Miranda in effect if the police are just talking to you, and you aren’t under arrest. And even then, Miranda does not offer the protections most people think it does.
When I’ve had clients that did decide talk to the police, and thought they were being careful and helpful, it still often goes wrong. Police can take what you say out of context, and deliberately or accidentally misunderstand your statement, and turn it around against you.
If you don’t talk to the police, they won’t have anything they can say about you.
How do I stop the police from calling me?
The easiest thing to do is get a lawyer to intermediate and head them off. Let me talk to them for you.
If you get a phone message from a police officer asking to speak to you about a crime, call me immediately.
As your attorney, I can call them back and be your intermediary so they won’t keep calling you. I can provide any basic factual information that might be appropriate for the situation, or none at all.
I will tell the police that any further contact must be through me, so they can no longer bother you directly.
The harassment will end, immediately. In many cases, the police won’t have anything else to go on, and the case will simply be dropped. Or, at a minimum, the police will have to proceed with whatever evidence they already have, and you haven’t inadvertently given them more information to use against you.
This can ultimately prevent you from being charged at all.
Can You Really Prevent a Criminal Charge?
Not in every case, but absolutely, it often works out that way. If the police simply don’t get enough evidence, then they can’t charge anyone. The case may simply never happen.
And if you do still get charged, it was almost certainly going to happen anyway and was not avoidable. So we move on to other defenses and ways to beat the case.
Will the Police Really Give Up the Investigation That Easily?
Sometimes, yes. In cases of fairly minor crimes like hit and run, where no one was injured, and the damage was covered by insurance, many officers and police departments just won’t make much effort in these investigations.
This is not always the case, and some departments can be aggressive and relentless, and take any investigation very seriously. So, it really depends.
Will the Police Be Suspicious If I Have My Lawyer Involved Over a Simple Question?
Maybe. But, suspicion doesn’t add up to much. And there are perfectly understandable reasons why some people just don’t want to talk to the police under any circumstances.
Some people have had a bad person experience with a police officer and are legitimately mistrustful. Some communities and cultures are used to corrupt police officer not protecting their interests.
And some people are just paranoid, legitimately or not.
NONE of these reasons for not talking to the police are evidence that suggests you are guilty of a crime.
And not talking to the police is absolutely the best way to avoid both being arrested, or ultimately convicted of a crime.
If you do ultimately get arrested or issued a criminal citation for you to appear at a clerk magistrate’s hearing, there are still lots of opportunities to beat the case at that stage, and still end a case before you are ever technically charged with a crime.
Please give me a call if you are accused of any crime, or being questioned or harassed by the police. I can help.