Keep Calm and Lawyer Up!

February 8, 2016

Only guilty people lawyer up!

At least that’s how most people feel who never sat across from a police officer in an interrogation room (law enforcement personnel like to call it an “interview room,” but let’s be honest, if you’re in that room you’re being interrogated). I get it, if you didn’t do anything wrong then why would you need some mouthpiece in a suit to come in to do the talking for you, am I right? To answer that question accurately you really need to take it back one step further and ask:

Why do the police want to talk to you in the first place?

It may very well be that you didn’t do anything wrong! Great! Good for you. Another model citizen. Unfortunately, that’s not what matters. What matters is whether or not the police think you did something wrong. If the police have it in their heads that you’re a suspect, no amount of sweet-talking from you is going to change their minds. And if the police are “asking” you to come to the station to talk to them, then guess what: you either already are or soon will be a suspect. So why help them build a case against you by talking to them either at all, or without an attorney (i.e., “lawyering up”)?

When you go to the station alone to speak with the police they’ll be all too eager to make you as comfortable as possible by taking you into a private interview room where you can answer all of their questions in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere. There’ll be a table, a few relatively comfortable chairs, 4 bare (probably gray or beige) walls, old drab carpeting, a crappy tile ceiling, a nice heavy door, and audio and video recording devices running the entire time you’re in there!

If there’s even a chance you’re a suspect, you’re being recorded. Count on it. Everything you say during this friendly conversation among innocents, your voice, your demeanor, what you’re wearing, your limp, your scars, your tattoos, your cell phone, your lisp, your accent, your hair color and style, and anything else that can be used to identify you is memorialized on government video and/or audio equipment, also known as “version 1” or, worse yet, “People’s Exhibit 1”.

Or maybe you actually managed to avoid to say anything totally incriminating. Perhaps instead you only just handed the police a roadmap to your own conviction! Unknown to you, you help the police realize where the holes in their case may be. And if they have you in mind as a suspect, they’re not working to fill those holes in a way that clears you as a suspect; they’re looking to fill those holes in a way that makesyou THE suspect, and ultimately the defendant. These are trained manipulators, I mean interrogators, I mean interviewers. And despite what you think, they ARE smarter than you in that room. The chances of hurting yourself and/or helping them during this interview are astronomical.

Oh, and so help you if later you remember something different than the events you described in “version 1” and feel the need to clarify your previous statement. Now there’s a “version 2!” Two versions obviously means you’re a liar and hiding something! But since you voluntarily agreed to speak to the police (without an arrest and not while in custody), Miranda protections don’t apply and it will be incredibly difficult for your criminal defense attorney to suppress those statements later at any trial.

So how do you avoid setting off one of these law enforcement landmines? It’s actually very simple: speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately, as soon as you know the police would like to speak to you, and definitely before you say anything of substance to anyone!

Speaking with the police at their request (unless you’re a third party witness) is always risky proposition. I equate it to talking to your girlfriend once she gets it in her head that you’re up to no good: “No, I won’t get mad, babe. You’re not in any trouble, I promise. I just want you to tell me the truth and we can work it out.”

Sounds an awful lot like what the police tell you: “No, you’re not in trouble for anything, buddy! We just want to get some information from you, to help you out!”

If you are someone you care about has been arrested or is simply being investigated for a crime, call the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Catalano & Carpenter LLP at (845) 454-1919 today to schedule a free criminal case consultation. Or visit or website at www.CatalanoCarpenter.com.