From the first moment law enforcement officials suspect that you committed a crime, you must act to protect your Constitutional Rights. Whether your are innocent or not, the police and district attorney will try to convict you.
The police and prosecutors often convince themselves of a person's guilt early in their investigation, and then they will view all facts as supporting the proof of your guilt. Their behavior may be just human nature, but because of their biased actions you could wind up in jail convicted of a crime you didn't commit or sent to prison for something more serious than you did.
You need to protect yourself.
If you think you are suspected of involvement in criminal activity, the smartest thing you can do is to contact a criminal defense attorney. If you can, meet with your attorney before you are questioned by police. If law enforcement officials want to talk before you've hired an attorney or when your attorney is not with you, politely ask that your lawyer be present.
Your attorney will tell you exactly what to do to obtain fair treatment. Here are some general tips for anyone who is suspected of a crime.
The police and prosecutors are very good at convincing people to talk with them. That's their job!
The "good cop/bad cop" interrogation method is well known and it's still used because it is so effective. While one officer acts like he's intent on sending you to jail, another officer will be sympathetic and offer you the chance to tell your version of events.
"Don't you want to help?" they'll ask. "It'll be better if you do."
Interrogation is not about friendship or being nice. It's about the police trying to get you to say things which will land you in jail.
You need to identify yourself to law enforcement officials when requested -- just tell them who you are and show ID. But, you are not required to talk to law enforcement officials or explain your actions to them.
Do not talk or answer questions. Politely say that you would like an attorney to be present.
You have the right to say nothing to law enforcement, but you cannot lie to them or do anything to hurt their work.
However tempting it might be to tell a "white lie" about what you've been doing or to suggest to someone else that they help you by misleading the police, don't do it!
Your right to remain silent is protected by the United States Constitution. Lying to investigators, on the other hand, is a crime by itself. Even if you are involved in no other criminal activity, you can be sent to prison for lying to the police or asking others to lie for you.
Martha Stewart was sent to Federal prison in 2004 for obstructing justice and for lying to investigators, not for any other crime! Many other otherwise innocent people go to jail every year because they tell lies.
Don't lie to officers about where you've been, what you've been doing, how many alcoholic drinks you've had, or any other matter.
Rather than saying anything untrue or misleading to investigating officials, politely say that you would like an attorney to be present before talking to them.
Often the police will ask if they can come into your house, open your car's trunk, or look through your records to "help clear things up".
Their requests are often presented in friendly, informal ways which make your approval sound like a matter of common courtesy. A skilled cop can even make you feel rude if you won't let him into your bedroom to look around.
But, again, criminal investigations are not about friendship or being nice. Law enforcement want inside your bedroom door because they think you're guilty of some crime and they want to find evidence they can use to convict you in court. They did not come to your house because they want to find proof of your innocence.
Once you've acquiesced and let the police in, whatever they find -- even items unrelated to what they originally said they were looking for -- can be used to put your in prison.
The United States Constitution keeps police out of your private space. They cannot check out your home, just because they have a hunch you've done something illegal. They cannot rummage through your personal items in the hopes that they'll discover a piece of evidence they can use against you.
If law enforcement has reasonable cause to believe they can obtain evidence in your private space, they can ask a judge to issue a search warrant.
Don't give up your right to be free from unreasonable searches of your property by agreeing to law enforcement requests to look inside or enter your private space.
If you're suspected of a crime and need a strong, effective criminal defense, contact Tim Pori.
"To avoid conviction... you have to keep cool and not do anything that would help the prosecution."