Should I Talk or Should I Speak to an Attorney First?
Generally, people who are being investigated for a crime feel that if they
speak to the police and explain their side of the story, the police will
believe them and they will not be arrested. Nothing could be further from
the truth. As we often tell clients, one part of your brain wants to explain
your side of the story to the police in the hope that they will understand
your explanation and go away. This is rarely the case.
There is no question that speaking to the police is a dangerous thing to
do. You have a constitutional right
not to speak to the police other than giving them identifying information
(ex: your full name and your date of birth). It is important to understand
that law enforcement personnel—whether a patrol officer or a detective—are
trained professional investigators. Their job is to extract as much information
from you as possible before you realize that you should probably be talking
to a criminal defense lawyer who will inevitably instruct you not to talk
to the police.
Two Primary Reasons Why the Police Want to Talk to You
- First, they do not have enough information to bring charges against you
and are trying to get you to provide the information. That is the last
thing we want you to do. Our firm has handled many cases which would not
have been brought against our clients if they had remained silent.
- Second, if you do not fit into the first category, the police will generally
want to speak with you because they already have enough information to
bring charges against you or to arrest you but they are trying to get
as much information as they can from you before you speak with a criminal
lawyer. They know that as soon as you speak to an attorney, he/she will
almost always tell you not to speak to the police until the lawyer has
a chance to consult with you. The police also know that when they read
you your Miranda Rights—which explains that you have a right to
speak to a lawyer before answering any questions—many clients will
stop providing information.
Protecting Your Constitutional Rights
Police officers may try to avoid reading your Miranda Rights because they
are afraid that you will not speak with them once you know your legal
rights. They may even "guarantee" that they will not arrest you.
Be careful! This is simply an attempt by the police to avoid reading you your Miranda
Rights and yet, still be able to use any incriminating statements that
you may make against you in court.
Again, the best move for a person who is being investigated for a crime
is to speak to a criminal attorney! There are situations in which a lawyer
may give you permission to speak to a police officer but that permission
is always given after a consultation. In many cases, there are things
the defense attorney can do to arrange for a client to speak to the police
without further harm to the client, such as negotiating immunity with
the District Attorney, preventing charges from being brought when the
client speaks with the police, etc.
If you are being investigated by police, do not hesitate
contact our firm right away. We proudly serve Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Lake, Mendocino, and