I hope you never experience the dilemma of receiving a call from a police officer requesting an interview. If you do end up in this situation, take a look below at the answers to frequently asked questions about talking to the police:
Do I have to agree to answer questions?
You do not have to answer questions from the police or agree to a police interview. The 5th
Amendment of The United States Constitution protects you from being forced to testify against yourself.
Why would I refuse a police interview?
There are a number of reasons why agreeing to a police interview could be a bad idea. First, it is almost always recorded and can be used as evidence against you in court.
Second, the police do not have to fully disclose why they are interviewing you, what evidence they already have, or if they have a search warrant ready for your cell phone when you arrive at a police station.
On top of that, detectives can and routinely do lie to suspects about the evidence they have, or the statements made by other witnesses.
Finally, police officers usually interview a suspect knowing full well they are filing charges regardless of the suspect’s cooperation or statements. That means you have no benefit in cooperating and only risk making a statement that could hurt you later at trial.
If I do agree to talk to the police, what should I expect?
Typically, the detective is going to bring you into an interview room at the police station that has cameras capable of recording the interview.
- Myth: The detective has to read you your “rights” before they can interview you or the whole statement is inadmissible.
- Fact: If you came to the police station voluntarily, then you were not under arrest. If you are not under arrest, the law does not require the detective or any officer to read you your “rights” for the interview to be admissible in court. The detective will likely ask you a question like, “We want to hear your side of the story,” or, “Can you tell me what happened on…” The officer may have some follow-up questions once you are finished telling your version of events.
This may be the time where the officer confronts you with some piece of evidence or witness statement that contradicts your version of events. At some point, the officer may even have you write your statement down.
Once the officer believes there is nothing further to gain from the interview, the officer will likely tell you that you’re free to leave. In most cases, they will let you know they are getting an arrest warrant and will call you when you need to turn yourself into jail. This is a sure sign that you are the suspect, and the interview was solely an opportunity to get your statement on the record in an admissible form for later prosecution. At this point, you NEED TO HIRE AN ATTORNEY.
How do I know if I am a target of an investigation or just a witness?
This can be difficult to figure out in most cases. You are likely to know if you have committed a crime. If you have committed a crime, you should assume you are a suspect, not a witness. If the officer tells you that you are not a suspect, that could be a sign. However, officers can and will lie to you, so do not take that at face value.
When should I contact an attorney?
It is always a good idea to consult with a criminal defense attorney before speaking with the police. A detective should never hold it against you if you tell them you want to consult your attorney prior to answering any questions.
Attorneys are more familiar with the investigative process and can give you individualized advice based on your particular circumstances. There is no reset button in a criminal investigation, and you do not want to speak to the police without knowing your rights and the potential consequences. If you have received a phone call or letter from the police and they want to speak with you, you need to contact an attorney before you respond because you may not realize how serious the situation may become. Your statement to the police could be the only evidence the police need to charge you with a crime. This is why you should not assume the situation will go away or get better on its own.
Consult a qualified criminal defense attorney at The Law Office of Chris Fredericks today. Get in touch with the firm online or by calling (972) 474-8575!