I am being investigated for a crime. Should I talk to the police?
By Nathaniel Pitoniak on May 15th, 2019 in
What to Do if the Police Want to Talk to You
When a Police Officer Calls You
One of the most common questions people ask me is whether they should return the phone call of a police officer and talk to them. It doesn’t matter how intelligent the person is, or how many times they have seen on television a suspect says, “I want to talk to a lawyer.” The instinct to call the police officer back and explain your side of the story is overwhelming. But it is usually not in a person’s best interest to do this, at least not without receiving legal advice first. Even if they are telling the truth and did not commit the offense for which they are being investigated.
As you have probably heard before, “anything you say can and will be held against you.” This is part of the Miranda Warnings police officers must read to a suspect before questioning them in custody. What this means to you is that any statement you make after being Mirandized can be used as evidence against you.
On the flip side of the coin, if you say things that are helpful to you during this interview, the prosecutors are not obligated to enter this statement into evidence because it is hearsay. In other words, your statements can be twisted against you and taken out of context. While you have the right to testify at trial in your defense, most people would agree it is better to avoid being charged with a crime in the first place. And in any event, you do not want to give the police officers evidence that will hurt you.
How to Talk to Police
It is in your best interest to speak to a lawyer when contacted by a police officer. Speak to your lawyer first before saying anything to the police. A suspected person cannot anticipate what the police officer is trying to get them to admit. Police are skilled at making you feel at ease and extracting the statement they want. They are trained to lie to achieve this goal and they do it every day.
In many cases, a criminal defense lawyer with experience dealing with pre-arrest investigations can collect evidence that may change the outcome of the investigation. I have successfully avoided charges for people after gathering the relevant evidence and bringing it to the attention of the police officer. If the police officer is doing a thorough job, they must communicate this information to the prosecutor before a charging decision is made.
One powerful piece of evidence is a polygraph (or lie detector) test. While the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has determined these are inadmissible at trial, they can be a powerful decision-making tool to influence police officers, prosecutors, and grand jurors. Stated differently, they can persuade a prosecutor not to file charges or a grand jury not to indict someone.
Even if a charge does result from the investigation, the benefit of seeking legal advice from an experienced criminal lawyer from the beginning is invaluable. It is far better to have your ducks in a row than to wait around and do nothing. Being proactive can make a tremendous difference for people worried about criminal investigations.
Call Us Today
If a police officer or detective wants to speak to you, don’t wait, call our office today to get advice from a leading criminal attorney in Houston. Don’t let your words get used against you, no matter what the situation. Hiring a lawyer doesn’t make you guilty, it’s your right!