When the Police Want to Chat
So you got home from work today and there’s a New York detective’s business card under your door. You call the number on the card. He tells you he’d like you to come in and talk to him.
We’ve seen it all too many times in our line of work. The police tell someone they need to have a friendly chat. They need to get their side of the story, and get things straightened out. It won’t take long, and then they can go on about their business. So the person talks. Maybe because they didn’t do anything wrong. Maybe because they have an alibi. Maybe because they genuinely want to do the right thing and help the police solve a crime. And what happens? They get arrested.
When the Police Want to Chat
You won’t be coming home from the precinct that day. You are going to be arrested.
NO, YOU CAN'T TALK THEM OUT OF IT
You can't talk them out of it.
The police have already made their decision.
NO, THEY WON'T LISTEN
They won't listen.
The police won't listen to your side of the story and change their minds. The other side already convinced them to arrest you.
NO, THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR STORY
Your story is irrellevant.
The police don't care that you would never do something like that. That you have a good job. That you're college educated. That you support your elderly parents, your five kids, and your wife. The police don't care that you're a really nice guy. They don't even care if you weren't even there.
It Can Happen to You
You might be reading this and thinking, “Of course I would call a lawyer if I were in real trouble, but I would use my judgment. I know how to talk to the police. If I’ve done nothing wrong, there’s no harm in talking.”
Too many people with this line of thinking get arrested and spend the night in jail. Still think it can’t happen to you?
One of our clients had an airtight alibi: two witnesses, cellphone records, the works. He wasn’t anywhere near the scene of the crime. Guess what? He still got arrested. The detective said he had probable cause.
Call Your Lawyer First
So what do you do when the police want to talk to you? Call your lawyer first. Suffolk 631-204-8254 — Manhattan 212-233-4141 — Nassau 516-206-2002 —Toll Free 888-315-9841
Level the Playing Field
If you were wrong, if you really were just a witness, then consider it an insurance policy to have your lawyer present. But if you do get arrested, the police and prosecutors will have a lot less to work with down the line when it comes to proving you guilty in court.
Even if you think you’re just a witness, let us talk with the police to clear that up for you. Because whether you’re a witness or a suspect, the detectives are going to say exactly the same thing: “Come in and talk to us.” Either way, you do not want to talk to them without your attorney present, and you do not have to.
We work smarter, harder and better.
Let Us Straighten Things Out
Does insisting on legal representation make you look guilty? Not really. It makes you look smart, and careful. Even if it does make you appear guilty, who cares? Cases against suspects are built on evidence, not appearances. Having an attorney present is not evidence. The things you say are evidence. Bringing a lawyer with you may be the only way you are going to go home tonight.
No one is suggesting you should run from the police. That only causes more problems. But you cannot walk into that police precinct by yourself. If you go in with a friend or family member, the police will make him or her wait in the lobby for you. A few hours later, the officer at the front desk will tell your friend or family member that he or she can see you in court the next morning. Or at visiting hour at the jail after that.
Police want you to make their jobs easier for them.
They want the case to move quickly.
The police will always try to get you to talk to them without a lawyer present. Cops want suspects to do their work for them. In other words, they want you to talk.
They want you to talk.
Many cases get wrapped up quickly and easily in a little interrogation room in the precinct house. Just a couple of detectives and a suspect who doesn't know he's a suspect, or who thinks he can outsmart the police.
They want to keep it simple.
The police will try to convince you that a lawyer is not necessary. That they're trying to help you. They may even act surprised or confused as if you're the first person they've ever heard ask for legal counsel. The police will try to tell you it's all much simpler and easier to keep lawyers out of it. It is easier — for them.
Realize this: If you're not the victim of a crime, the police are not here to help you. And the law says that they can lie to you – as much as they want – if it gets you to confess. So, if you're not the victim of a crime, if the police ask you to come in to chat, you can't trust a thing they say.
So who should you call when the police are looking for you? Your lawyer. And who should go with you to see the police? Your lawyer. Why? Because your lawyer can call the detective and find out what’s going on.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year.
Let Us Do the Legwork
The police will usually talk to us. We can find out if they are planning to arrest you or if you really are just a witness. We can find out if they really want to “hear your side of the story” or if that was just a lame ruse to get you to turn yourself in.
Your lawyer can sit with you and the police when you’re being interviewed. Your lawyer can tell you what questions to answer and what questions not to answer (in other words, when to shut up).
The police are very good at using what you say against you. By instinct, most people want to please the police when they talk to them, which often makes them say things they think the police want to hear. Sometimes, those things aren’t exactly true. But they become part of your statement, and your statement can — and will — be used against you.
Cops are experts at spotting lies. They’ll ask the same questions over and over and notice small differences in the answers. Then they’ll question the validity of your entire statement.
Your lawyer will not let this happen. Your lawyer will make sure you answer only what’s necessary. The police can’t get a confession from you if they can’t get you to say what they want to hear.
Talk to An Attorney No Matter What
It's equally important to speak first with an attorney if you are going to admit to a crime. You might think it wise to confess to the police. This is the wrong choice.
Police Cannot Negotiate Plea Deals
The police may suggest that the consequences if you confess now will be less than if you receive a conviction later. Don’t believe them. Only prosecutors can negotiate the penalties for a crime – not cops.
The police will try to get you to say as much as possible in order to open the door to additional charges, or more serious charges. That’s their job.
If you confess to police, the prosecution’s case against you is a slam dunk. They have no incentive to offer a plea bargain – that is, a lesser charge or sentence in exchange for a confession. On the other hand, if you talk to your lawyer first, they will negotiate a deal with prosecutors that is to your advantage.
Every day, someone looks back on an encounter with police and wishes they hadn’t talked. But no one ever looks back and wishes they hadn’t called their lawyer.
Don’t Call That Detective First. Call Your Lawyer. Call Us.
Schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our firm. Contact us online or call us in Suffolk at 631-479-2180, Manhattan at 212-233-4141 or Nassau at 516-342-5020. Toll free: 888-309-8876.