6 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Talk to the Police Without Your Lawyer Present

“I want a lawyer.” These are the four magic words you should always use when you’re confronted with questions from police. Although you should always opt for a polite, civil approach in favor of belligerence, it’s important to understand the traps you can encounter while speaking to police officers without a lawyer present.

1) Mistakes can be interpreted as lies. You may already be aware that police can use various tactics to extract information from you. What you may not realize is that if you misspeak, remember something inaccurately, or make an error while talking with officers, they can use that information against you. Remember that even the smallest mistake can be misinterpreted as a lie.

2) It’s tempting to tell a white lie. Even if you’re innocent of any crime, you may be tempted to over-embellish or gloss over certain details to make it clear that you’re a law-abiding citizen. Officers can easily catch these white lies and use them to attack your credibility in court. And don’t ever lose sight of the fact that physical evidence (such as fingerprints, broken objects and other clues) may very well contradict the details you provide.

3) Information can still slip out. Let’s say you’re innocent and you only answer the police with truthful statements. You may still end up giving them information that puts you in jeopardy. For example, if you tell police your whereabouts on a certain night, they may decide that you were geographically close enough to have committed the crime they’re investigating.

4) Police don’t have 100% accurate memories. If your conversation with police is not recorded, they may not accurately remember your responses. Even if they are taking notes, they won’t be put in a report right away. The officer will have to remember what you said when she actually sits down to compose the report. As we all know from our own experience, recollections of what others said are not always 100% accurate. Those inaccurate statements can be used to contradict your accurate version of events, thereby diminishing your credibility.

5) Police don’t have authority to give you a deal. These days, it’s widely known that police can entice suspects to cooperate by offering them “deals” or implying that they will receive better treatment—and if the evidence against them looks bad, even innocent suspects can be convinced to confess. Police don’t have the authority to bargain with you, but they aren’t obligated to tell you that (nor are they obligated to tell you the truth). Beware of a police officer who tries to mislead you in this way.

6) It won’t help you, whether you’re innocent or guilty. Police officers who are investigating a crime have an agenda. More often than not, it is to make an arrest. Any statements you make will be filtered through the prism of that officer’s experience and agenda. A simple statement professing your innocence can take on an entirely different meaning when it is repeated by a police officer to a prosecutor, judge or jury. Don’t believe it? Take a look at these two scenes from one of the best lawyer movies ever made, “My Cousin Vinny”:

You may have all the best intentions when you speak with a police officer, but unfortunately it doesn’t always turn out the way you expected. The only way to protect yourself when being questioned by a law enforcement officer is to have an experienced criminal defense attorney beside you at all times. That way, what you say and how you say it will be accurately recorded and not manipulated, altered or taken out of context.

Considering all of the tactics and strategies police officers can use to coax incriminating statements out of you, it’s important for you to build a strong legal defense with the help of an experienced criminal attorney. If you’ve been accused of a crime or you’re subject to questioning by police, assert your right to speak with a lawyer and call the Law Offices of Barry M. Wax. We will stand with you at every stage of the criminal process to make sure you have the best defense possible in your case.

Law Offices of Barry M. Wax