We previously talked about how police will use informal questioning to get you to confess to a crime, but that’s not the only trick they do to get people to help them do their job. Here are a few other things to look out for according to Vista defense lawyer Peter M. Liss:
- Do You Know Why I Stopped You? Easily the most common question police ask people they have pulled over, this question is asked for one simple reason: police hope it can get people to confess to breaking the law. Police don’t really care if you know why they stopped you, they just want to see if you might confess to something they had not yet noticed or at least confess to something they had noticed so they can have additional evidence of your guilt. Remember, any time an officer asks you this question, just say “no.”
- Cooperating Will Make Things Easier for You. The police don’t decide whether or not you will be charged with a crime or what sentence the state will seek for a crime if you are charged. Police will often say if you cooperate you will not be arrested. That only applies at that specific time and you can be arrested later and will usually be charged with any crime you admit. Helping the police just because they say it will make things easier for you will not help you in any way, and not helping them will not result in your being punished by the police. This is a common trick to stop you from invoking your rights -particularly your right to silence and your right to council. If a police officer says this to you, insist on speaking with your Vista criminal attorney and do not say anything else. Your lawyer may choose to negotiate with the District Attorney to actually make things easier for you, but the police do not have this power and DAs will not usually make agreements with a person who does not have a defense lawyer.
- We Will Just Get a Warrant Anyway. Police will occasionally say this to you hoping you will let them search your property without a warrant. But the fact that they don’t already have a warrant should never be forgotten. Either they don’t yet have enough evidence or they are trying to avoid doing the paperwork. If police give you this line, tell them to come back when they have a warrant and call your Vista criminal defense lawyer to make sure your right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure is respected if they do return with a warrant.
- We Have Evidence That Proves You Did It. (Or) We Have Someone Willing to Testify Against You. First of all, police can completely lie about either of these things, so just because they say they have evidence or a witness doesn’t mean they actually do. Even if the police have some sort of forensic evidence or a witness that implicates you doesn’t mean you should confess. Evidence is rarely conclusive and witnesses can lie. A Vista defense attorney could fight these things in court or may be able to negotiate a plea bargain in your favor, but if you confess to the crime, it will be much harder for him or her to do either of those things -especially if he plans to take the matter to court. No matter how much evidence the police have against you, do not speak to the police without a legal representative present.
- This is Off the Record. If an officer claims he has turned off a recorder during an interview, that doesn’t mean the information you share can’t be used against you. Literally anything you say to the police can be used against you, even if they claim it’s “off the record.” Again, do not talk to police without a lawyer at your side.
If you have been contacted by the police about a crime, call (760) 643-4050 immediately. Remember, even if they say you are not a suspect, what you say can still be used against you later. Do not answer any police questions without your lawyer present.
Creative Commons Image by Indi Samarajiva