Why Shouldn’t I Talk to the Police If I Am Innocent?

criminal lawyerLike most law-abiding citizens, your initial instinct is to cooperate with the police whenever asked to do so.  Why shouldn’t you talk to the police, or cooperate with an investigation, if you haven’t committed a crime? In an ideal world, that logic would make perfect sense and could be relied on to guide your interactions with the police. Unfortunately, however, we do not live in an ideal world. Consequently, there are several reasons why you should not talk to the police about an ongoing criminal investigation. A criminal lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby explains why you should never talk the police without first consulting an attorney.

How You View the Police Is Important

How you view law enforcement agencies in general, and interactions with law enforcement officers specifically, is determined by a number of factors. Some people, for example, are raised to believe that the police are who you turn to for help and that “officer friendly” always has good intentions. If you are one of those people, you probably cannot imagine refusing a request to talk to a police officer. It is crucial, therefore, to understand how law enforcement officers think, particularly a detective who is investigating a criminal case. For a detective, people fall into one of three very narrow categories: alleged victim, possible lead, or possible suspect. Notice that even the status of an “alleged” victim of a crime can be questionable to a law enforcement officer. If a police officer actually believes that you are the victim of a crime, it is fine to talk to a police officer; however, if you are anything but a victim, you should not agree to talk unless you have first consulted with an attorney.

For a detective, anyone and everyone is a potential suspect. Experience has taught them that criminals come in all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds. This is the lens through which they view every conversation and interaction with the general public. When a police officer asks things such as  “Would you mind talking to me about what you saw?” or “I just want to clarify a few things if that’s o.k. with you?”…what he/she really means is “I want to determine if you are lying about anything” or “I already think you are lying about something and I want to catch you in an outright lie.”

It is crucial that you understand this in order to protect yourself if you ever find yourself in an encounter with the police because protecting yourself later is much more difficult. All too often a well-meaning individual agrees to talk to the police assuming that if they didn’t do anything wrong they have nothing to hide. During that conversation, something is misunderstood or the individual is unable to provide a satisfactory answer for a specific detail and the next thing you know he/she morphs from witness to suspect. Once that happens, it becomes much harder to go back to being viewed as a witness. The time to protect yourself is before you become a suspect.

Always Consult with a Criminal Lawyer before Talking to the Police

When it comes to the prospect of insisting on consulting with an attorney before talking to the police, you may be worried that doing so will make you appear guilty. Remember two things if you are concerned about this. First, as mentioned earlier, most law enforcement officers already consider you to be a potential suspect, so insisting on consulting a criminal defense attorney before talking to them doesn’t really change anything. Second, whether you really are guilty or not, if you end up being charged with the crime, you will likely have done potentially irreparable harm to your defense by talking to the police without an attorney present. Therefore, you need to remember that having the police think you are guilty is definitely the lesser of two evils when the other option is for you to be convicted of the crime because you damaged your defense by talking to the police without a lawyer present.

Contact a Tennessee Criminal Lawyer

If you have been contacted by the police regarding a criminal investigation in Tennessee, it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal lawyer at Bennett, Michael & Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your appointment.

Dinah Michael