Why You Should Not Talk to the Police Without an Attorney
“But, the Officer Said I Didn’t Need a Lawyer!”
Let me preface what I’m about to say by allowing that some of my very best friends are police officers and detectives. I respect the work they do. We can be good friends outside of work, but at the same time professional and appropriately detached within our work, and fight fair between the lines. The professional collegiality is one of the things I like most about practicing as a criminal defense lawyer in Chester County.
The above said, if one of my detective friends were investigating something I allegedly did (…I didn’t do it), theywould be shocked if I spoke with them without my own lawyer.
Here’s why: the police, as part of their investigative tool chest, are allowed to lie to the subject of an investigation. Let me repeat: they are allowed to lie to you. Nothing is more frustrating for the experienced criminal defense lawyer than to watch a video of an experienced investigator first gain the confidence of a client: “I know you’re not a bad guy…” [Or] “You’re walking out of this room today…” Next, lay the trap: “A good guy would tell me the truth.” [Or] “I already know you did it, your co-defendant told me.” And, finally, obtain an incriminating statement from the client.
The police and prosecutor cannot, however, lie to your lawyer. Those are the rules.
“Well,” you may be saying to yourself, “that’s fine advice if you’re GUILTY, but I didn’t do anything wrong!”
Ok, let’s assume that’s the truth.
(1) The police may not share your vision of the truth (shocking, right?)
(2) Assuming they do not, information you are providing to them, even in what you view to be an entirely exculpatory manner, can help them establish elements of their case (for example, your presence at the scene of the alleged crime).
“But, won’t hiring a lawyer make me LOOK GUILTY?!”
No. It will make you look smart. The police likely already think you’re guilty, even if they tell you otherwise. And, if it is truly possible to talk your way out of being charged, what’s the rush? This decision should be an informed one. You should first consult with, retain, and follow the direction of, an experienced criminal defense lawyer as to whether/when to speak with law enforcement.
As I said above, anyone wise to the ways of how our criminal justice system works would not hesitate to hire a reputable attorney to advise them and act as a buffer between them and law enforcement. You shouldn’t hesitate either. If approached by an investigating officer, politely ask for their card and advise them your lawyer will be in touch.
Peter Kratsa has over 20 years of experience practicing criminal law in state and federal courts. Mr. Kratsa also represents individuals and entities in regulatory matters such as professional license investigations and prosecutions. Peter Kratsa is a member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Pennsylvania Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (PACDL).
Contact Peter Kratsa, Esq. at [email protected] or 610.436.0100