Articles on this blog often reiterate the fact that you should never speak to the police without your lawyer present. Even so, many people misinterpret that common legal advice offered by practically all criminal attorneys in San Diego to mean that they should not talk to the police if they are being investigated for a crime. The reality is that it doesn’t matter whether or not you are being charged with a crime, you should never talk to the police.
As we mentioned in our article detailing your rights while interacting with the police, the only questions the police can ask that you are legally required to answer are those related to your identity. You are legally required to tell an officer your name and present him or her with your ID when asked to. Beyond that, when a police officer asks you a question, you should ask if you are being detained. If he or she says no, you should refuse to answer any questions and just leave. If he or she says yes, then insist on speaking with your San Diego criminal defense lawyer.
Remember, anything you say to the police can be used against you -whether or not you have been arrested and whether or not you have been read your Miranda Rights. That’s why police so often rely on informal questioning to interrogate suspects as people are more likely to say something damning to their case when they don’t believe they are under suspicion. Police will often interview or question someone by telephone to avoid giving Miranda Rights. The reading of Miranda Rights only applies to custodial questioning so someone speaking by phone is not in custody.
In many cases, police will often approach someone as a witness or as someone else who may help them solve the crime although the police already believe that person is guilty. Alternatively, they may actually be talking to a potential witness and then decide that person could be a suspect and suddenly that witness’ story could be used as evidence against them. Either way, that person will have provided police with evidence that they would not have given if they had a San Diego criminal attorney present with them at the time.
While many people are worried they will look guilty if they do not cooperate with an investigation, the reality is that it is much better to protect yourself from providing statements that could be used against you in court than trying to avoid making the police suspicious by invoking your right to a lawyer. Anything exonerating you can always be conveyed to the police through a lawyer.
It’s easy to assume that this is just a tactic defense lawyers in San Diego turn to in order to drum up business, but this Vice article details all the reasons you should avoid speaking with the police -and this comes from a legal professor who doesn’t benefit one way or another if more people start hiring lawyers before they speak with the police.
If you still have any questions about your rights while dealing with the police and whether or not you should insist on speaking with a lawyer when the police ask you questions, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free initial consultation with Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons by Emanuel Sanchez de la Cerda