A Former Prosecutor Defending Clients in Wyoming and South Dakota
Even if you haven’t committed a crime, it is dangerous to speak to the police without a lawyer. You could make a mistake that a police officer could misinterpret as a lie; the police officer might misremember the question he asked or your response or; you could be tricked into saying something that could be used to incriminate you; or the police might take your answer out of context and combine it with statements from other witnesses and experts to charge you with a crime.
If you are under investigation or if there is any possibility that you could be charged with a crime, do not speak to the police without talking to a lawyer first.
If the police intend to arrest you and charge you with a crime, you will not be able to talk your way out of it. No matter how persuasive you are, you will not convince the police officer not to arrest you. Senators, celebrities, and even criminal defense lawyers have found themselves in trouble because they spoke to the police and thought they could talk their way out of it.
No criminal defense lawyer has ever said “Thank goodness my client decided to speak to the police without me.” Even if you ultimately decide to speak to the police, it is better to make this decision after meeting with a lawyer to discuss what you will say, and to have a lawyer present when you speak with the police.
Statements that you make to the police will not be used to prove your innocence; they can only be used to prove you guilty. If you do say something to a police officer that would make it less likely to convict you, the prosecutor and the judge will not allow those statements into evidence at trial because they are hearsay.
If you speak to the police without a lawyer, there is a good chance you won’t get anything in return. Instead, use your statement as a bargaining chip. Tell the police you want to speak with a lawyer, and ask your lawyer to negotiate for immunity before you make a statement.
Anytime you speak to the police there is a chance you will admit to something that the police can use to charge you with a crime. If you are going to agree to speak to the police, you should get something in return. A lawyer can help you negotiate immunity in exchange for your statement.
When talking to the police there is no such thing as a minor mistake. Anything you say will be scrutinized, and even the slightest error can be magnified and used to show that you were lying. Police officers will use your statement, that may not have been recorded, out of context. Any discrepancy can be used to cast doubt on your testimony and discredit you.
Being in police custody is intimidating. When people are being questioned the thing people want most is to get out of the interrogation room. The police officer’s job is to develop probable cause and ultimately a confession so the prosecutor can secure a conviction with little effort. Most police officers have been interviewing people for years. This is probably your first time being questioned. The police officer is more comfortable and has more experience questioning witnesses. Even with the most educated people, the playing field is not level. Police officers will ask the same question again and again, in slightly different ways, then exploit any minor discrepancy to insinuate that you were being less than truthful.
Criminal law is incredibly complex and is codified in thousands of statutes. There are so many criminal statutes currently on the books that even the federal government is unable to state with certainty how many criminal statutes are currently in effect. These statutes often incorporate administrative statutes, which makes it even more difficult to know how many potential crimes there are that could be violated.
This means that it is impossible to know when or how your statement could be used to prosecute you for a violation of any one of thousands of criminal statutes. In fact, some laws are so obscure and vague that it is impossible to know whether a law has been violated.
The reality is, everyone has done something illegal - even if it’s something very minor. Then, if you say that you have never broken the law, that lie can be used to prosecute you for lying to the police.
It is human nature to fudge the truth, just a little bit. Suppose you were stopped for speeding and you tell the police officer you were going 38 mph when you know it was closer to 50 mph. You have just lied to the police. This lie can be used to discredit the rest of your statement, or even to prosecute you for lying to the police!
If you are under investigation for a crime, you will say something that can be used to convict you. Even if you are innocent and say nothing incriminating (which is impossible), your statements can still be used to charge you and convict you. The police officer might not precisely recall the question he asked or your response. Even if your responses are recorded, they can be taken out of context and used to charge you. If you make a statement that is slightly false, it can be used to show that you lied to the police, which is a crime in and of itself.
If you are under investigation or have been charged with a crime, call a lawyer before you say anything to the police. Wyoming criminal defense lawyer Christina L. Williams and her team of criminal defense professionals are here to help protect your one shot at justice.
Learn more about the cases we handle and why clients choose us, then contact us today to schedule a personalized case review and strategy session. Call us at (307) 686-6556, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or complete our online form.
You only have one shot at justice - don’t leave it to chance.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this article is offered for educational purposes only. This information is not offered as legal advice. A person accused of a crime should always consult with an attorney before making decisions that have legal consequences.