You are suspected to have some involvement in a criminal investigation. A police detective calls or confronts you to obtain information about the incident; they just want to talk.
What is on the line when you talk to the police?
A police detective wants you to tell him everything you know. The problem for you is that, even though you might be innocent, anything you say can come back to hurt you. A police officer, no matter how nice, has nothing to lose when having such a conversation. Anything you say can be self-incriminating and can be used against you in a court of law.
The importance of having an attorney with you when talking to the police.
Having an attorney by your side during a conversation with the police can prevent miscommunication and putting yourself in a situation that you never believed would happen to you. An attorney can prevent:
- You from admitting one or two facts that tend to prove guilt;
- The police detective from misunderstanding you;
- You from lying to the police, and preventing the police from potentially lying about the statements you made; and
- You from confessing to a crime you did not commit.
Retaining an attorney when being questioned by the police is the easiest way to avoid potential legal problems from happening to you.
What are your rights?
Under the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution, you have the right to remain silent because anything you say, especially if you have been arrested, can be used against you in a court of law. The 5th Amendment can prevent you from self-incrimination. Invoke your 5th Amendment right by telling the police that you prefer to speak with an attorney before speaking with them.
Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, you have the right that prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures without a warrant for probable cause.
What happens if you are arrested?
If you are arrested, the police are required to read you your Miranda rights. Under Miranda, “you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law, you have the right to an attorney, if you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you.”
If you are wanted or have a warrant for your arrest, an attorney could arrange for you to turn yourself in with bail conditions worked out in advance. This way you can control the situation, instead of being arrested and thrown in jail by the police at a time and location that is not to your choosing. Voluntary surrender shows that you are not a flight risk, so at your first appearance, the court would be more inclined to release you on your own recognizance, or to set a low bail.