Some arrests are made on the spot as a result of a law enforcement officer actually witnessing the offense. Other arrests, however, are only made after a lengthy investigation. Typically, these arrests are for more serious crimes. During the course of a police investigation the police will often try to “talk” to people. If the police contact you and tell you they want to talk to you, you may wonder “ Do I need a lawyer if the police want to talk to me? ” The simple answer to that question is “yes”, unless you are the victim.
People frequently make the mistake of talking to the police without an attorney present, only to find out how big of a mistake it is at trial. A common reason people give for talking to the police without a lawyer is that they think they can talk themselves out of getting arrested. All too often, they talk themselves into getting arrested. The other common explanation given for talking to the police is the belief that not talking to them makes you look guilty. More often than not, however, you will say something during the “conversation” that makes you appear guilty in the eyes of the police or that is misinterpreted and used against you down the road.
The reality is that the police only want to talk to you because they believe you are a victim, a witness, a suspect, or someone who can lead them to a suspect. Assuming you are not the victim, any of the remaining options puts you in a precarious situation. Don’t assume you are safe talking to them because you are a witness. Witnesses turn into suspects rapidly. Suspects, or those who can lead them to a suspect, are in an even worse situation and should never talk to the police without an attorney present.
You have an absolute right to speak to an attorney before being questioned by the police – and make no mistake about it, a “talk” is questioning. Law enforcement officers do this for a living. They know how to ask the right questions and get the right answers. The odds of you deflecting suspicion off of you by talking to them are slim at best. Furthermore, while they may, indeed, become more suspicious if you ask to speak to an attorney, that is a much better result than going ahead and talking to them and giving them evidence with which you can be convicted.
If you are contacted by a law enforcement officer who wants to talk to you, contact an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney right away to ensure that your rights are protected.