Most of us have been taught that when a police officer tells us to do something, we need to cooperate and do as we are told. Under the best of circumstances, the things a police officer will tell us to do include moving when instructed, stopping when instructed, Showing our hands, etc. Sometimes, an officer will tell us to do something that is NOT in our best interest. When in doubt about whether or not the police want to interview you, especially when you may be a suspect, don’t say anything without an experienced criminal defense attorney present.
To somewhat complicate things, there are times when it is smart to talk to the police right away. For example, if there was a bank robbery and you are stopped for questioning, either because you are a witness or happen to look like the suspected bank robber, it can be a good idea to answer basic questions right away. These questions may range from, “Who you are, where you live”, to “Why are you here, what did you see”, and similar non-incriminating questions. It is in your best interest to answer these questions as they are asked, in an effort to not draw suspicion to yourself.
However, if you are questioned as though you are the suspected bank robber, be quiet and call an attorney. When you are being questioned as though you are a person of interest, a police officer may be attempting to get information that will somehow put you at the scene of a crime, participating in said crime. If you say something that will make the police believe you were involved, then you will most certainly find yourself in trouble. An attorney can assist you by telling you when to speak, how to answer, and when it is in your best interest to remain silent.
It is also important to keep in mind that police officers can use information that is not precisely accurate, in order to get someone to admit that they were involved in a crime. As a matter of fact, this inaccurate information technique is something that police officers will often use to get a confession, and a qualified defense attorney can help ensure that the person being interviewed will not make the mistake of incriminating themselves.
An aggressive criminal defense attorney can also help keep police from making a person confess when they’re innocent. Some people are reluctant to believe that innocent people would admit they committed a crime, but veteran police officers have experience in making people say almost anything in certain circumstances. An attorney can help prevent the person being interviewed from falling for a trick, which might make them implicate themselves in a crime they did not commit.
In the event that multiple people have been brought in for questioning concerning the same crime, they will most likely be placed in separate holding cells. In this event, if one person admits they committed a crime because they have been intimidated by police officers, then both parties are in trouble. These false confessions do happen, to scared, exhausted and susceptible people, when confronted and possibly manipulated by the police. The police may use a tactic in which they make it appear that an accomplice has confessed, but in reality, nothing has been said by the other party. This is just one of many tactics used to elicit a confession, whether true or false, and an aggressive, experienced criminal defense attorney can help spot these tactics, and shut them down.
When being interview by the police in an antagonistic situation, it is always imperative to have an experienced attorney accompany you. Without representation, innocent people may say things that they did not intend to say, which can harm them in ways that will put their freedom at risk.