Let Your Lawyer Work

When you have a lawyer, let him do his job for you.

The simple fact is that if the police are interested in talking to you, they likely want to arrest you but haven’t enough evidence yet to do so. Don’t give them evidence by talking to them without a lawyer present. This is true regardless of whether you believe you are totally innocent of any wrongdoing. The police are trained to elicit confessions from suspects, and even if you do not “confess” they may gather evidence from you which, taken along with other evidence, will provide the basis for your arrest and be used against you at trial.

The police are allowed to use tricks when they talk to you. For instance, they may tell you someone has already identified you. They may say they have your fingerprints or a videotape. They may say they’ll give you a break if you cooperate. They may say they know what happened and only want to hear you say it. Don’t believe it! Do not think that you are smarter or more clever than the police, or that you can fool them. The NYPD is the best police department in the world and you need professional help if they come knocking on your door.

Nor should you ever believe that things may go “easier for you” if you confess to a crime you may have committed. It is not a cop’s job to make things easier for you. On the other hand, there is an instinctive human need sometimes to “come clean” if you have found yourself in a situation that could give rise to criminal charges. Resist this temptation. It is better to calmly decide on a course of action after consultation with your attorney.

Remember, anything you tell the police can be used against you—not just confessions. If you tell the police anything, and it turns out to be untrue, they will introduce it at trial to show you are a liar, or that you were tying to throw them off because you “knew you were guilty.” Similarly, even if you tell the police truthfully, for instance, that you were at the scene of a crime but had no role in it, they may introduce this statement to establish your presence and then present additionally evidence to prove you guilty of the crime.

So, if you have been “brought in for questioning,” say nothing except your name, address, date of birth or other pedigree information. Do not be belligerent with them. Do not argue with them or “take the bait.” Instead, calmly tell them that you do not wish to make a statement without a lawyer present. Explain that you want a lawyer if you do not have one. If you already have retained counsel, tell the police his name and phone number if you know.

In other words without a lawyer, never answer questions from the police! Never make statements. Never sign any document the police may give you. Never agree to be videotaped. And never agree to waive any of your constitutional rights.

It’s the government’s job to prove you guilty—don’t help them do their job!


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