For many people who wind up having a serious conversation with a police officer, it’s the very first time. If the officer suspects that they broke the law or is even planning on arresting them, they can feel quite anxious and may make mistakes that can impact their future case.
These are the types of mistakes you want to avoid at all costs. No matter what you’re being accused of — from embezzlement to domestic violence to drug charges — you don’t want to start off with a crucial error that makes the case harder. The legal system is already complex enough.
Therefore, it’s important to think about exactly how you talk to the police. Here are a few key tips:
- Remember that you never have to say anything about the allegations without your lawyer. You don’t have to answer questions. You don’t have to give your account of what happened. You have a right to have a lawyer with you in these situations and you can stay silent until you do.
- You should always strive to be respectful, even if you don’t agree with what is happening. You can protest your innocence without escalating the situation. Try to keep emotions out of it — as hard as that may be.
- Remember that they can use anything you say against you, but also that anything you say doesn’t mean it’s the end of your case. Even if you tell them that you’re guilty, that may not end it. Perhaps your confession was coerced. Maybe the police violated your rights before the confession, it should never have taken place, and the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine comes into play. There are many things to consider.
- Make sure you know your rights as far as where the officers are allowed to go. For instance, even if you’re talking to them outside your home, that doesn’t mean they have permission to enter without a warrant if you go inside. The same may be true if they want to search your car after a traffic stop.
Talking to the police is just the first step in the process. As your case moves forward, continue to look into your legal rights and the options you have.