By Collin County Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeremy Rosenthal
Police officers investigate crimes and build criminal cases. Police use the legal elements of a crime as a check list to determine whether they can make an arrest or not. Police officers are not judges. It is not their job to determine who is right and who is wrong and shake the hand of the winner.
Always consult a lawyer if police want to question you.
Miranda rights will typically not apply to voluntary visits to the police station. While only the police really know the true reason they ask a particular person to come in, it may be because they lack only a technical check-list item to complete their case.
The police may be looking for a minor detail which the suspect assumes is common knowledge, or the police may not have a clue and the suspect confession can be their early Christmas present. Prison is full of people that should have used their right to remain silent!
“But I’ve Got Nothing to Hide”
Police reports often read like “Soviet History,” meaning you tell the police, “I went to the house for the party for a few minutes and didn’t recognize anyone, so I left.” The police report will read, “suspect admitted entering the house.”
Got the idea?
If an officer has his mind made up before you even begin the interview, probably nothing you do or say will change his mind. I’m not saying that people can’t persuade police they’ve done nothing wrong and avoid a huge criminal headache… I’m just saying that is a big gamble.
I Don’t Want to Make the Police Mad
Often times, the only conceivable way they can solve a crime is through your confession or admission. Police are used to people “lawyering up.” Getting a lawyer may make the police upset — but they’ll get over it. Do the officer’s feelings really matter when your future is at stake?
But They Said it’s Just for Routine Questioning
Deception is a legitimate tool for law enforcement. Many police can be highly manipulative in taking a softer, more friendly approach to an interview suspect. In Dallas and Collin Counties, jurors will applaud police who can craftily get confessions after trial and the Defendant is on their way to prison.
This article isn’t intended to apply to situations where you may get what is known as a ‘target letter’ of a federal investigation. In those situations, you should consult a lawyer immediately as well.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice, you should consult an attorney.